A Roterham MP is calling for people who sexually exploit older teenagers to receive tougher sentences because 16 and 17-year-olds are still children.
Sarah Champion said the capacity of older teenagers to consent to sex could be ‘impaired through an imbalance of power between a child and a perpetrator’, as well as by drugs or alcohol.
And she called on Government to help raise awareness of the vulnerability of older teenagers, who were ‘treated like adults and not afforded the additional protections given in law to younger children’.
Ms Champion made the comments during a House of Commons debate about older teenagers at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation.
She told MPs: “Yes, 16 and 17-year-olds can give consent to sexual acts, but is it always informed consent? The law does not recognise that in many cases where children aged 16 and 17 become victims of sexual offences, they are coerced into submission by perpetrators who supply them with drugs and alcohol or of whom the young people are scared.
“The capacity to consent is impaired through an imbalance of power between a child and a perpetrator, and by the young person’s use or dependency on drugs or alcohol.”