The Way I See It #40 : By Darren Murphy

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One of Britain’s most prominent lawyers has called for the age of sexual consent in the United Kingdom to be lowered to 13-years-old. Barbara Hewson, a barrister at Hardwicke Chambers in London, did not stop there, though. No, she also added that those who complain of being sexually assaulted should no longer receive anonymity.

What a tactless and utterly unacceptable ideology this is. I find it alarming that a woman with as grand an education can be so callous. The Jimmy Savile abuse scandal led to the creation of Operation Yewtree, which has exposed a far wider amount of criminality (alleged or otherwise) than anyone could have imagined. Yet Ms Hewson believes that the investigation is nothing more than a witch hunt and a planned attempt at persecuting some aging men. Lowering the age of consent to protect perpetrators of possible wrong doing is not only immoral, it’s unjust and disturbing.

What follows this, a parade of mothers barely in their teens, unsure of the world as it stands, who now have to care for children of their own?

And what of the victims of rape or sexual assault, would it be right that having already had to endure a horrific ordeal they waive their right to anonymity?

For many victims of sexual assault, it is the anonymity they receive that helps them to move on. The horrible experience of reliving the dreadful events with the whole world knowing you were the victim would be yet another demeaning episode in their lives.

Regarding recent events and the arrests of several well-known people, I, myself, at times, have thought, “No way, not him too.” Some of the allegations against certain individuals may be false, I’m aware of that. They’re innocent until proven guilty, of course. The fact remains, though, that Operation Yewtree has unearthed some terrible wrong-doings. The suggestion that it is nothing more than the persecution of old men is absurd. Even old men must face justice. For example, if Hewson’s parents had been murdered 60 years ago and new evidence was substantial enough to warrant a conviction, do you think Barbara would say, “It’s okay now, you’re an old man.” I think not.

Ms Hewson argues that crimes committed by men such as Max Clifford and Rolf Harris are hardly in the extreme, and more playful than abusive. Although she also states this about disgraced broadcaster Stuart Hall, who is guilty of assaulting girls aged from nine to 17. Describing his crimes as “not serious, but merely low-level misdemeanours”.

Any indecent assault against a nine-year-old is absolutely appalling and is certainly not a low-level misdemeanour. Ms Hewson seems to have become some bizarre sort of sexual crime apologist, which is inappropriate for a woman in any position, let alone one of her standing.