Age of consent confusion

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Dear Editor,

It's funny that the age of consent in Jamaica is 16 years, but you really can't do much for yourself at 16. People don't even take you seriously at 18 — the age one officially becomes an adult.

The maths just don't add up.

You cannot get a regular driver's licence at sixteen, insurance companies either do not insure or charge an arm and a leg for drivers under 25, and young people must wait until 21 to even think about being a legal cabbie. Yet, many young girls land babies before landing their first job, or even their first degrees; and many boys enter the 'Babyfada Hall of Ratings' at the same rate.

How many more suffering, single teenage mothers and unconscionable pregnancies will it take to realise the consent confusion?

This is in no means bashing those who have suffered bad decisions and unfortunate circumstances, but we need blunt commentary to spur action, preventing more misfortunes.

Yes, contraceptives in schools is a move; however, I can't say if it is a good or a bad one. It is taking some action, but is also opening another loophole, giving more leeway for kids to have sex.

Yes, I said kids. I am 18 years old, and, yes, I am still a kid.

Many young people may want to rush to leave the shelter of their parents' homes but they are unable to manage the bills. Even if we have to buy a few things from our own money, staying with parents is cheaper than rent, food, clothing, and everything else we want. The other dilemma is that, with barely enough education and no work experience, you cannot get a decent job at 16. The average decent job requires tertiary education, and the reality is that even people with bachelor's and master's degrees, and vocational expertise, are sometimes unemployed or under-employed.

The powers that be should raise the age of consent. As it stands, it is only a legal framework that does not translate well in real life.

While that is being considered, I am also appealing that some of the limitations placed on youth be lifted. We have shown that we are capable and are trying to be responsible. We may be inexperienced, but many of us are willing to learn to develop ourselves and develop the country at large. What we can't bring in experience we will make up for in innovation and helping our own nation to be great. Many young people are venturing into areas such as entrepreneurship, investing, and other legal ways of improving themselves and their financial situations.

With Jamaica continuing its upward strides, seen in the Ease of Doing Business Index, let us give our youth a fair chance. For God's sake, let us make it easier for our youth to achieve.


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