Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll

From Planet 234

by Catrin Fflûr Huws

As the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill passes through the legislative process, Catrin Fflûr Huws analyses its proposal to lower the minimum voting age of National Assembly elections to sixteen, and reflects on the bafflingly contradictory ways in which the law sets the age of adult responsibility.

Let us imagine that there is this thing called ‘responsibility’. It is always there and somebody has to carry it. The law is one of society’s mechanisms for deciding one whose shoulders that responsibility will lie, and, significantly, who is absolved of bearing responsibility. Childhood may be defined as a period where there is an absence of responsibility – the child is not capable of making a choice, and the purported decision made by the child is invalidated because the child lacks capacity, as in the case of consent to sexual activity. As she or he becomes older, the child becomes less irresponsible, eventually transitioning into an adult who does have the capacity to bear the responsibility for his or her own decision-making.

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