The United Nations’ International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) has unveiled a new set of proposals for legal principles that would include the de-criminalization of pedophilia and abolishing regulations on age consent for sex.
The so-called March 8 Principles, which were released on International Women’s Day, set out a human rights-based approach to laws that criminalize behavior related to sex, drug use, sexual and reproductive health, homelessness and poverty. The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists wrote with the assistance of UNAIDS and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“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. 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.”
The report also calls for the decriminalization of sex between adults and minors where minors consent to intercourse.
“Criminal law is one of the most powerful tools available to the state to exercise control over individuals. As such, it should be the instrument of last resort, but the trend worldwide is towards over-criminalization. We must recognize that these laws violate not only human rights but also the principles of criminal law itself,” said Ian Seiderman, ICJ Legal and Policy Director, in a press release.
The report further puts the onus on those under 18 to make their own sexual decisions, with no apparent age limit in the report put on how young a child can be before sex is considered “non-consenting.”
“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,” the report reads.
If the recommendation of the report is implemented, it would essentially mean that child rape would become legal as long as the child “consented” to the rape.
The report also calls for a relaxation of all criminal laws on sex work. However, critics say this would enable traffickers and abusers to force vulnerable people into prostitution with impunity.