It’s hard not to gasp. The NCCL – a campaign group for civil liberties – issued a document in 1976 calling for the age of consent to be lowered to ten.
In its vision, the official age of consent would be lowered to 14, with “special provision” made for children as young as ten who experiment sexually but are “close in age”.
Let’s take a second to remember what else it is that 10-year-olds are doing with their bodies at that age: they enjoy activities including, not hitting puberty, sleeping in novelty duvets, and skating around pavements on ‘heelys’.
Nevertheless argument over what the age of consent should be has stepped up in recent years.
In the wake of the Savile revelations the 70s are an era under scrutiny. The lawyer Barbara Hewson argued controversially that 13 was old enough for anyone to take responsibility for their sexual behaviour, and the law should reflect that to stop the “persecution of old men”. (At IndyVoices we hosted a highly critical response from the lawyer representing Savile’s victims).
What the above infographic proves is that any age of consent is a boundary constructed out of legal and social attitudes, rather than any precise physical developments, or timeworn moral codes.