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27 How. J. Crim. Just. 32 (1988)
A Defence of Sexual Liberty for All Age Groups

handle is hein.journals/hjcj27 and id is 32 raw text is: 




The Howard journal Vol 27 No 1. Feb 88
ISSN 0265-5527



    A Defence of Sexual Liberty for

                    All Age Groups



                    EDWARD BRONGERSMA
          Doctor of Law (The Netherlands), former Chairman of the
    Permanent Committee for Justice of the Dutch Senate (the Upper House)

Abstract: This paper discusses the concept of an age of consent for sexual relationships,
suggesting that some such contacts between adults and children are not harmful and should,
therefore, not be punished.

Sexual contact between adults and children has been an emotive subject
in Western society for a considerable time, and it can be argued that this
has often resulted in injustice to the older and younger partners in such
relationships. This situation, in which irrationality and prejudice are
important  influences, is likely to be made worse by the arrival of the
scourge of AIDS  now  adding  a physical dimension to the moral panic
already so well established.
  In disussing sexual liberty it is important to remember that all forms of
sexual activity have been admired in certain places at certain times. There
is not a single act from marital intercourse to mother-son incest, from
masturbation  to bestiality, that has not been considered praiseworthy in
some  cultures, or beneficial to health, just as it has been  thought
objectionable, sinful or unhealthy in other cultural environments (Challot
1972'; Szasz 19822; Churchill 19673).
   In ancient  times no  distinction was  made  between   legality and
morality. Both emanated  from the same authority: the king-priest-judge.
How   revolutionary  the introductibn of  the distinction was  is well
exemplified by the attitude towards homosexuality. What previously had
been  an atrocious crime  meriting atrocious punishment, no  less than
being  burned to death, became  suddenly, on a certain day in 1791, in
France, entirely legal - and this with the unanimous approval of all the
courts of Paris and other cities.
   The distinction between immorality and  unlawfulness is particularly
important  in the field of sexuality where subjective feelings of disgust and
righteousness so easily distort judgment. Wise people may know and take
into account that other men and  other women  will have different sexual
predilections and may be sexually excited by individuals or circumstances
which  hold no attraction for others. But even the wisest man is not able to
feel his way into them, to see - for a moment - the world as they see it.


32

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