Thursday, March 15, 2007

can sell it but can't consent to it?

I was reading a 2006 Human Rights Watch report on New York State's juvenile facilities for girls (well, reading would imply a higher level of diligence than I was according it) and one passage caught my eye. It seems that an underage (< 17) girl in New York can’t legally consent to sex but can be convicted of prostitution.

If this is true, it's both ludicrous and fascinating. For starters:
  • it implies that girls have sufficient ability to 'intend' to commit commercial sex (prostitution) but not to 'consent' to non-commercial sex. What on earth is the difference between intent to consent and why can a girl do one and not the other?

  • it presents customers of the girl with twice the problem: presumably they can be charged with both statutory rape and with patronizing a prostitute

  • it presents girls with any number of problems, two of which, off the top of my head, are:
    • if she should become pregnant, acquire a disease, encounter abuse, or otherwise need help, a prostitute appears to be exposing herself to criminal charges. A 'normal' girl would presumably get any and all help that New York has on offer.

    • she is conceivably in a vulnerable position vis a vis a statutory rapist. Assuming that a girl is raped, it seems that the rapist may use the threat of accusing her of engaging in prostitution to discourage her from reporting the incident

Anyway, just a few thoughts. Does anyone know anything about the reality of these scenarios?

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