Friday 20 January 2017

Let's not return to a Victorian view of the feeble, defenceless woman

Published 13/07/2014 | 02:30

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris

In the wake of the Rolf Harris conviction, I was invited to discuss the general issue of sexual "inappropriateness" and "unwarranted sexual contact", as the current phrases have it, on the Belfast BBC radio programme 'Talkback'.

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"Look," I said to the producer, "the most important distinction that should be made in this arena is that there is a major, crucial difference between the sexual molestation of children, or under-age young people, and sexual relations between adults." In the reporting of, and reaction to, the Rolf Harris case, that difference was not always sufficiently underlined.

To molest a child of seven is an odious crime, for which there is no defence. However, to "grope" an adult woman – in law, that means a person over 18 – is quite a different matter. Cope with it, I'd say. Give the groper a good kick in the shins – or in a more sensitive place of the anatomy, if need be.

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