Pressure mounts on CICA to change approach on consent for sexual abuse claims for children

MPs are now joining charities and pressure groups to ensure that the CICA rewrites its approach to whether or not a child under the age of 16 can consent to sex. For a number of years the CICA has rejected cases on grounds that a child/young person was capable of consenting to acts which amount to child abuse and under age sex. This contradicts the criminal law. Someone could be convicted of offences in the criminal courts – which is proof that the unlawful act(s) occurred but the applicants are then being denied compensation for the harm done to them. Most of these cases involve some form of grooming or bribery and manipulative behaviour from the perpetrators which adds to the child’s inability to “consent” to what happens. They are often plied with drink and drugs as well. All of these factors would effect an adult’s ability to consent – never mind a child’s. In effect the CICA are saying that children as young as 12 could be held responsible for causing or contributing to their own sexual abuse because they “consented” to it.

The Secretary of State for Justice directed that the CICA should re-examine its approach to this in July, however the draft guidelines that have been released do not go far enough and the row continues. The CICA must surely change their approach.