Letter to the Dutch Minister of Justice

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By: C.C.

Is Mandatory Victimhood to Beat the Principle of Complaint?

To the Minister of Justice, Mr. A.H. Korthals
Postbus 20301
2500 EH Den Haag
The Netherlands

Tuesday, 19 September 2000

Minister Korthals,

I am nineteen years old and writing you with a political request. My letter concerns the principle of complaint as specified in Dutch moral legislation (subsections 2-4 of section 245; subsections 2 & 3 of section 247; and subsection 2 of section 248ter, Criminal Code). This principle rules that those who engage in sexual contact with persons aged twelve to sixteen can only be prosecuted if a complaint has been lodged against them by the young person themselves, their legal representatives, or the Child Welfare Council.

You intend for the principle of complaint to be removed from moral legislation. You argue that the freedom of choice of people aged twelve to sixteen would be sufficiently guaranteed if their sexual contacts were illegal in principle, and anyone, including the government, could initiate legal proceedings. The young person would retain the right to be heard during the criminal investigation. Your Memorandum on the Combat of Sexual Abuse of and Violence Against Children (1999) fails to consider the fact that the fundamental illegality of intimacy, the "offender" stigma of the older person involved, and the radically negative, prejudiced disposition of society seriously undermine a young person's confidence in any positive effects of sexual contacts.

In your Memorandum you write that research by the Verwey-Jonker Institute into the functioning of the principle of complaint has shown "that the principle of complaint sometimes hampers the effective tracing of child prostitution and sex tourism." It would be unjust to prohibit sexual acts in any given context in order to facilitate the combat of prostitution. You have yourself mentioned a solution that would not affect the integral principle of complaint: "For this reason it has been proposed to drop the principle of complaint where sex with an underage [18-] prostitute of that age group [12-16] is concerned."

You also write: "Furthermore, [the Verwey-Jonker research] pointed out that the principle of complaint enables criminal prosecution following a complaint lodged by the legal representative, even when the young person against whom the offence was perpetrated does not want prosecution to take place." This observation is not surprising, since the current principle of complaint rules that the right to request criminal prosecution is not reserved to the young person alone. Conservative parents, for instance, can freely lodge a complaint concerning a mutually desired relationship. I fail to see how young people would be in a better position to prevent the punishment of consensual contacts when governmental interference in sexual contacts with people aged twelve to sixteen no longer needs to be preceded by a complaint. In what respect would the free choice of the young person be better guaranteed? In what respect would dropping the principle of complaint not give a priority to the uncritical desire to persecute sexual expressions? The above-mentioned observation of the Verwey-Jonker Institute rather suggests that you take measures against the criminal prosecution of consensual sexual contacts, or a partly sexual relation considered positive by all parties involved, after a complaint of parents or of the Child Welfare Council.

Just like you, I believe in combating sexual abuse, but I have painful first-hand experience of how abuse is fostered by the usual criminalizing and stigmatizing of sexual contacts with young people. Destroying, punishing and preventing consensual affectionate contacts and relations is a serious manifestation of the true abuse of power. It seems that the current "climate" has led you to decide that you cannot permit yourself to consider this.

Since I was about thirteen I have looked for a "partner", be it to experiment with or to enter into a relationship with. Had this partner been a significantly older person, the age difference would not have automatically implied "abuse" or "exploitation". Only at the age of seventeen was I blessed with a relationship with a man who is my age plus half a century. I applaud his preference for young boys. People are still trying to talk me into victimhood. I earnestly deplore not having found a partner long before I turned seventeen, for instance at the age of thirteen, when this very tangible and important desire began to manifest itself unambiguously and permanently.

The sexual revolution has changed a lot, but it has not removed the fundamental fear of sexuality from Western society. Although the revolution was sincere, its effects have turned out to be partly cosmetic because even a radical and vast shift in mentality cannot within a few decades remove from the nature of our people the centuries-old fear of expressing (erotic) affection. I am convinced that the extremely negative popular concepts concerning youth and sexuality are inspired by an instinctive resistance to the sudden, recent liberalization of sexual values and standards. The ingrained societal fear of (erotic) affection is expressed in the representation of the "innocent, harmless minor", and in the urge to persecute any and all who oppose it. The few scientists who dare to refute this dogma (such as Sandfort in The Netherlands, Baurmann in Germany, Rind et al. in the United States) are being denounced and denigrated right up to the political level, whereas subjective research relying on negative selections has become the norm.

Not long ago, when I was first allowed to vote, I voted for the VVD [People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, to which Korthals belongs] in hopes of supporting the liberal and rational Dutch approach to things (which approach is non-existent in the field of youth sexuality). Now that even representatives of the VVD reveal themselves as defenders of ultraconservative and irrational opinions about morality, who dance to the tune of a media-brainwashed majority of the people, I am at a loss as to what party will defend my positive approach to relational freedom for all ages. I would feel terribly abused and neglected sexually if I did not loathe victimhood. Victimhood is nowadays a compulsory status for certain categories of people, including minors (also called "children" in your Memorandum), regardless of what the results of their experiences would be if they were not tainted by all the social and legal negative influences.

It is unjust to regard erotic intimacy as a phenomenon exclusively or usually deserving of the label "abuse", and to do so because of a political trend towards globalization. [The pending law amendments have their origin partly in a global congress against the commercial sexual exploitation of children which took place in Stockholm in 1996.] I urge you not to revert to the unconditional criminalization of any sexual contact in any context with anyone under sixteen, with the weak argument that young people have the "right" to be heard by fully sanctioned adversaries of physical intimacy.

Where, in order to combat abuse, misery and superstitious ignorance in a realistic way, is your Memorandum on the Advancement of Fun in Physical Intimacy?

source: 'Letter to the Dutch Minister of Justice' by C.C.; OK Magazine, no. 76; December 2000