Short lapse from Lenten discipline for this sad tale of Edinburgh life.
*Warning: Statutory rape discussion ahead.*
I first saw this story in a Scottish newspaper two days ago and was inspired by the shocking headline to read further. What I read made me feel extremely sorry for the Polish boy who--as I remarked to B.A.--was nevertheless in a state of mortal sin. Hopefully his parents have dragged him over the coals and sent him to confession.
It is interesting hat the judge did not mention "cultural issues", as is occasionally done. The sexual dissolution has made inroads in Poland, but I would be surprised to hear that parents there allow their twelve year old daughters to traipse about at night, talk to boys at taxi stands, and feel free enough to go with strangers to parties. Thus, I can well understand why, when these Edinburgh 12 and 13 year olds told a 19 year old Polish stranger that they were 16 and 17, he believed them.
The observations I can bring to the discussion is that I see any number of (I think--it's hard to tell) pre-teen girls on the Rough Bus wearing skin-tight leggings over their round bottoms and occasionally I shudder at a child's thick make-up. The make-up bothers me much more than their cheerful call-outs to strangers since this is Scotland and chatting happily with strangers is a time-honoured Scottish custom. However, it is a total contrast to life in Poland, where people do not smile at strangers, let alone strike up friendly conversations with them on the bus. In my experience, if an adult woman like me looks at a male stranger, he will know at once and stare back, thinking goodness knows what.
Hopefully this very sad story is at very least a warning to young men who come to Scotland that sometimes girls who act and look like and claim to be older girls are actually only 10 or 12. A commentator asked if boys should be expected to ask for ID, and my answer is "Yes." Other commentators have echoed my grim thoughts about the girl's parents, but not only parents are to blame for the behaviour of twelve year olds. Pop culture has been selling sex to children for decades now, and local children eat up pop culture like ice-cream. When B.A. shushed a pair of noisy girls who were harassing two quiet girls on the Rough Bus, they began to sing some pop song they had down word-perfect.
I am not sure what this says about me, but the part of the story that had me tight-lipped with anger was the twelve-year-old's worrying to others that she might be pregnant. It was not enough that she had had a one night stand with a "fit" guy she met in a taxi queue---no, she had to have some DRA-MA. This, I tell myself, is unfair. She is, after all, only twelve. And presumably pregnancy worries are a natural and unpleasant part of pre-teen sex lives.
On the other hand, considering that her lust (but for what?) and lies led to a young man's name and photo being splashed across Britain's national newspapers, I do wonder how much slack we should cut a girl just because she's twelve. He's named; she's not. She lied. He didn't. She may have known what they were doing was against the law in Scotland. He didn't knowingly consent to having sex with a girl her age. (When he found out she was only 12, he burst into tears.) Nevertheless, headlines call him a rapist. She isn't called anything. So far any public anger I've seen is directed towards her (unnamed) parents.*
*Update: Well, Poles have something to say, (Roughly) e.g. " To zepsuta moralnie dziewczyna jest winna." (Roughly, "It [her behaviour] is morally wrong; the girl is guilty.") They are also fighting among each other about Queen Jadwiga and telling lurid stories about the behaviour of modern day teenage Polish girls. "World has gone to dogs," says one grumpy chap.