Having sex and driving a motor vehicle both demand a lot of
energy and responsibility. Which one do you believe demands the greatest
responsibility and accountability? I pose this question because the laws of
our country confuse the issue. According to our laws, the age of
maturity--when someone can vote, become legally independent, and drive a
car--is 18. However, the age for sexual consent--when a person can legally
consent to have sex-- is 16.
This means that a sixteen-year-old girl is old
enough to independently decide to have sex, but not responsible enough to
drive a car. It is also illegal for a person less than 21 to purchase
alcoholic beverages. The reasoning seems to be that an unmarried
sixteen-year-old teenager has more intellectual acumen, reasoning power, and
maturity to have sex, than an eighteen-year-old to vote for the destiny our
nation and to drive a dangerous machine (the car), and a twenty-one-year old
to purchase a bottle of Kalik.
The Bahamas is not unique with these kinds of laws. Many
Caribbean islands and countries around the world have similar laws. I noted
with interest though, that Barbados’ age of maturity is 18, but the age for
sexual consent and the legal age one can get married is 16. I thought one had
to be matured to be married! Perhaps the only countries in the world where sex
outside of marriage is illegal is Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Madagascar has
the highest age for sexual consent at the age of age 21 (perhaps the only one
in the world). Countries with the lowest age for sexual consent (ages 12 or
13) are Guyana, Columbia, Japan, Mexico, Malta, Nigeria, just to name a few.
Some countries have different ages of sexual consent for each gender. For
example: Hong Kong (18 for males/15 for females), Iran (14 for females/17 for
males), Botswana (16 females/14 males), Bolivia (14 for females/16 for males).
In Pakistan there is no age for sexual consent. This universal commonality to
the unimportance of sex makes it difficult for us to do what is right. It
seems that the whole world has it backwards; but the Bahamas can do something.
We can at least match the age of sexual consent and the age of maturity.
- LEGALIZED PROMISCUITY
- In the Bahamas, a person under age 18 needs the legal approval of his
or her parents to get married. On the other hand they do not need legal
approval two years earlier to have sex. What an irony! This certainly
proves that our nation officially values sex over marriage and goes at
length to protect that concept by making it into policy. Our nation’s
family policies are inherently designed to destroy the marriage
relationship and to give license to adult men and women to prey on
innocent girls and boys. This is one reason agencies like SCAN, Social
Services, and the Crisis Center are climbing a high wall of
impossibility. The laws are working against their progress. This is one
reason we have difficulty defining sexual abuse and molestation.
It is my opinion that the age of sexual
consent should at least match the age of maturity (18) and better yet, be
raised to age 21 when psychologically, adulthood really begins. Adolescence
ends at the age of 21 and for some people, at 25. Sexual activity is a very
serious decision to make. We have trivialized sex to the point that the
sacredness of marriage is threatened.
It should be a serious criminal offense for anyone to have
sex with someone aged 21 or under (unless legally married to that person). The
punishment should be even more severe if the victim is under 18, and even
greater if the victim is under 13.
- CHRISTIAN NATION?
- I wondered, after reviewing the age of sexual consent in countries
around the world, which countries are truly Christian? None. The only
country that applies its religious beliefs to its laws is Saudi Arabia
where sex outside of marriage is illegal. I am not suggesting the other
countries do the same. We cannot legislate morality. The job of law
makers is to protect the innocent and preserve the basic unit of society–the
family. The Pilgrim Fathers left Europe hundreds of years ago for this
very reason. So they can worship and serve their God according to the
dictate of their conscience. It is imperative that the church influences
the government to make laws that protect the innocent (our children and
teenagers). For example a sixteen-year-old is not old enough to
volunteer for sex. Secondly, there is a 50/50 chance of getting pregnant
when you have sex. Pregnancy brings with it huge responsibilities, and
teen pregnancy outside of marriage has negative sociological and
economic effects on our nation. This risk alone should cause us to
change the laws.
Anthropologist and psychologist Dr. Robert Edgerton, in his book
"Sick Societies, Changing the Myth of Primitive Harmony"
begins with these words: "All societies are sick, but some are
sicker than others. This paraphrase of Orwell’s famous quip about the
equality of animals calls attention to the existence of tradition
beliefs and practices that threaten human health and happiness more in
some societies than others." He also states that there are
"some customs and social institutions in all societies that
compromise human well-being." He points out in his book that the
laws of the society are indicative of its sickness in the past. I ask
the question then, could we preserve the future of our nation and
families by first evaluating the current laws of our land relevancy in
the current society and then be willing to make the changes where
necessary? According to Dr. Edgerton, history demonstrates that any
society that refuses to examine the relevancy of its laws and traditions
in the contemporary setting always fails. Please let us not fall into
this trap. Let’s work together to preserve our nation.
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family therapist and
board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or
comments to email@example.com
or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visitwww.soencouragement.org
or call 242-327-1980