Did a UN report call for the decriminalisation of sex between adults and children?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : UN Report Calls For Decriminalisation Of Sex Between Adults + Children
People are sharing an article which claims that a UN report just called for the decriminalisation of sex between adults and children!
Here is an excerpt from the long article, for your reference. Please skip to the next section for the facts!
UN report calls for decriminalization of all sexual activity, including between adults and children
A new report from the United Nations has called for all forms of drug use and sexual activity to be decriminalized globally.
Written by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the report was released on International Women’s Day, with the goal of guiding “the application of international human rights law to criminal law.” Called the “8 March principles,” the report calls for offenses related to “sex, drug use, HIV, sexual and reproductive health, homelessness and poverty” to be decriminalized.
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What UN Report Said On Decriminalisation Of Sex Between Adults + Children
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : The Report Was Released In March 2023
The UN report in question was released on 8 March 2023 by UNAIDS. You can download a PDF copy to read for yourself.
The International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) along with UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officially launched a new set of expert jurist legal principles to guide the application of international human rights law to criminal law.
The ‘8 March principles’ as they are called lay out a human rights-based approach to laws criminalising conduct in relation to sex, drug use, HIV, sexual and reproductive health, homelessness and poverty.
Ian Seiderman, Law and Policy Director at ICJ said, “Criminal law is among the harshest of tools at the disposal of the State to exert control over individuals…as such, it ought to be a measure of last resort however, globally, there has been a growing trend towards overcriminalization.”
“We must acknowledge that these laws not only violate human rights, but the fundamental principles of criminal law themselves,” he said.
Fact #2 : The Report Was Written By The ICJ
I should point out that the report was written by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), which is not part of the United Nations, and is a separate and independent body. So technically, this isn’t a UN report.
Composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, the International Commission of Jurists promotes and protects human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. Established in 1952 and active on five continents, the ICJ aims to ensure the progressive development and effective implementation of international human rights and international humanitarian law; secure the realization of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights; safeguard the separation of powers; and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and legal profession.
© Copyright International Commission of Jurists
Published in March 2023
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Fact #3 : Adolescence Is Defined As Ages 10-19
Before we get to the crux of the issue, it is important to note these definitions.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child broadly defines a child as an individual aged 0-18 years, but over time, the UN and the WHO formally defined adolescence as the ages of 10-19.
Fact #4 : Report Referred To Adolescent Sexual Activity
The ICJ / UN report in question referred to adolescent sexual activity, and not child sexual activity.
In the Foreword on Page 2 and the Introduction on Page 7, it was mentioned twice that the report referred to “consensual sexual activities, including in contexts such as sex outside marriage, same-sex sexual relations, adolescent sexual activity and sex work“.
This is repeated for the third time in Part III of the document, where it called for the decriminalisation of “consensual sexual activities, including in contexts such as sex outside marriage, same-sex sexual relations, adolescent sexual activity and sex work“.
Therefore, Principle 16 – Consensual Sexual Conduct, where the report called for the decriminalisation of consensual sexual conduct clearly refers to adolescents, and not children at large.
Fact #5 : Adolescents Are Having Sex
The decriminalisation of consensual sexual activity involving adolescents is critical, because the truth is – many adolescents are having sex.
In its 2013 study of young adolescent sexual activity, the Guttmacher Institute noted that by the time they turn 16, about ⅓ of adolescents have had sex, increasing to nearly half (48%) by 17 years of age, and 61% when they turn 18.
If minimum age of consent laws are not adjusted accordingly, these adolescents may be criminally penalised, throwing their entire lives into jeopardy.
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Fact #6 : Report Mentioned Minimum Age of Consent
Principle 16 – Consensual Sexual Conduct did not call for the abolishment of any minimum age of consent, which is what those viral claims implied. Rather, it said that such criminal laws should not be biased in favour of any sex / gender, or age of consent to marriage.
In other words – what’s good for the gander is good for the goose too. The law should be applied equally – if the age of consent is set at 16 years, then it must apply to both males and females alike.
With respect to the enforcement of criminal law, any prescribed minimum age of consent to sex must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner. Enforcement may not be linked to the sex/gender of participants or age of consent to marriage.
Fact #7 : Report Never Mentioned Sex Between Adults + Children
Nowhere in the report is there any mention of sexual activity between adults and children. The report also did not call for the decriminalisation of sexual activity between adults and children.
The word “adults” is only mentioned three times in the report, all under a single section:
Principle 17 – Sex Work
The exchange of sexual services between consenting adults for money, goods or services and communication with another about, advertising an offer for, or sharing premises with another for the purpose of exchanging sexual services between consenting adults for money, goods or services, whether in a public or private place, may not be criminalized, absent coercion, force, abuse of authority or fraud.
Criminal law may not proscribe the conduct of third parties who, directly or indirectly, for receipt of a financial or material benefit, under fair conditions – without coercion, force, abuse of authority or fraud – facilitate, manage, organize, communicate with another, advertise, provide information about, provide or rent premises for the purpose of the exchange of sexual services between consenting adults for money, goods or services.
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Fact #8 : Report Only States That Underage Sexual Conduct May Be Consensual
The report did not call for the decriminalisation of sexual activity between adults and children. It only pointed out that any sexual activity involving individuals under the legal age of consent may be consensual in fact, even if they are not consider consensual in law.
In that context, it calls for the enforcement of such minimum age of consent laws to take into account the possibility that adolescents may be matured enough to engage in consensual sexual conduct, and have a right to be heard.
Moreover, sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual in fact, if not in law.
In this context, the enforcement of criminal law should reflect the rights and capacity of persons under 18 years of age to make decisions about engaging in consensual sexual conduct and their right to be heard in matters concerning them.
Pursuant to their evolving capacities and progressive autonomy, persons under 18 years of age should participate in decisions affecting them, with due regard to their age, maturity and best interests, and with specific attention to non-discrimination guarantees.
In other words – the report did not call for the abolishment of minimum age of consent, but asked that law enforcement take into account the opinions / testimonies of the adolescents in question, rather than just applying the law blindly.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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