Friday Lore Post: Underage Sex and its Consequences

Both Dolovai and Kyaine have a bit of a challenging relationship with underage sex. Definitionally, this is sex between an adult and a minor—in both countries and just about everywhere else in the world, the concept of minors having sex with each other is not troubling to most people unless they want to marry or have children themselves, in which case the issue becomes more fraught. But sex between adults and children is policed to a degree.

Though not all sex of this type is policed. Childhood in Dolovai is defined as applying to anyone below the age of twenty, and in Kyaine as anyone below the age of sixteen. Sex between adults and children doesn’t become problematic unless the child is younger than fourteen, which is the legal marrying age in both countries, and in practice it is very rare for anyone to get in legal trouble for having sex with anyone who has started puberty—presuming that the sex was consensual, of course.

That is not to say that there is not social stigma that exists towards adults who might habitually have sex with young people; certainly someone who made a habit of having sex with twelve or thirteen year olds would be looked at askance regardless of whether they were in legal trouble for it, and the parents of the children involved might well have something to say about the situation. When legal action is taken in cases where someone has had sex with a person under fourteen but still pubertal, usually it is because the person’s parents are particularly angry about it.

If such a union results in a pregnancy, especially if the younger party is pregnant, this will cause legal problems, because legally one cannot be recognized as a parent until they are marrying age, even if they are not married. This often results in the adult party having to take full responsibility for the child—which tends to be a solution that makes people uncomfortable, since a lack of responsibility around a child was what caused the situation in the first place. As a result, usually the parents of the child who was involved in the pregnancy will end up taking at least partial custody of the child at least until their own child is old enough to be a parent themselves. This is especially true with parents of a girl who was impregnated by an adult man.

For this reason, same-sex adult/child sex tends to be more common, mostly because people are more wary of leaving girls alone with men and boys with women. It is not that people think that same-sex encounters with this age gap are more rare or cannot happen, but merely that they are understood to have fewer long-term consequences.

Adults who have sex with pre-pubertal children are subject to punishments ranging from castration to hanging, depending on how strict local law enforcement is and how consensual or not the encounter is understood to be. Children of all ages are understood to be able to consent, but that consent is not considered applicable in a situation with an adult. The situation gets a bit more challenging if the offending party is not legally an adult, as child/child sex isn’t considered a problem, but nobody would deny that an eighteen-year-old and an eight-year-old having sex is a problem. In such cases as this, whether or not a punishment is enacted is again going to depend on how strict local law enforcement is and whether or not a judge or magistrate decides a crime has been committed. The age gap between the parties and the consent given are the two major factors that play into this decision, generally speaking. As a general rule, sexual interactions between pre-marriageable children and pre-pubertal children are not considered a problem in a legal sense, though again people’s parents might choose to intervene.

Two major exceptions to these laws exist on Menechit, which are slavery and prostitution. Of course, slaves aren’t considered people, so the laws pertaining to age of consent do not apply to them and in the slave-owning north, a free adult my freely have sex with an enslaved child. In parts of the Menechit in which slavery doesn’t exist, children do occasionally work as prostitutes. Most brothels employ at least a few pubertal children, but most of them also keep on staff a few errand boys or girls who aren’t officially for sale, but tend to be discreetly visible in the brothels so that potential customers know they’re there. This is something that is technically not legal but officials are generally willing to look the other way about, as there is an understanding that some people are attracted to children and will need to get their satisfaction somewhere, law or no. The fact that orphans and children of very poor people, as well as children of prostitutes, tend to be who ends up working in brothels represents a clear class-based double standard when it comes to enforcing these laws. Relatedly, poor, orphaned and homeless children generally tend to be more likely to experience sex with an adult before puberty.

Finally, relationships like apprenticeships, squire/knight relationships and other student/teacher relationships are not considered unusual if they take on a sexual component, regardless of the age of the participants. Though the current culture of the mages’ academy is one that considers student/teacher sex inappropriate, this has not always been the case and the reason why it was put into place is not out of fear for the students but more that it would be considered unfair if a sexual component played a role in some students receiving better grades than others.

In Aergyre, adulthood starts at fifteen and the onset of puberty qualifies one to participate fully in any sexual situation. However, children are understood to be able to consent, so as long as consent is given, an adult/child sexual encounter isn’t considered a problem from a legal perspective. Slavery is of course also widespread in the empire, with all incumbent sexual issues. In Enjon, the laws are mostly similar to those in Menechit, though there is no hard and fast marrying age. In most of Djyekkan, sex with adults in childhood is considered an important element of growing up properly.

As a general rule, most nonhumans consider puberty and the onset of sexual activity to be identical. Goblins tend to encourage sexual activity from a fairly young age, and orcs consider the loss of virginity to mark acceptance into the clan, whenever that happens. Werewolves wrap sex, dominance and hierarchy together, and most werewolf children learn that pretty soon. Dragons consider sex with a pre-adolescent to be demeaning for anyone who isn’t a very young adolescent, though any dragon who has survived to adolescence is considered sexually available.

Adult/child sex doesn’t happen at a rate much higher than one might expect almost anywhere. Most adults don’t want to have sex with children, and most children don’t want to have sex with adults. It’s safe to say that the majority of adult/child sexual encounters take the form of one or both parties just grabbing what’s closest to them for whatever reason, or one person wanting it and the other person consenting just because sex is fun. Abuses and rape do happen, but most of the time when an encounter like this takes place, everyone has a good time.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 4: Desires and Behaviours,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997.

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