Learning Disabilities and the Capacity to Consent

Ella

“I’m interested to know what you think about the court’s decision that a young woman with learning disabilities and a history of abusive relationships does have mental capacity to consent to sex: http://dailym.ai/1wBHexD I personally find it tricky because while, on the one hand it’s important people with learning disabilities are treated with respect and have equal rights to the rest of us, on the other hand don’t we as a society have a duty to protect vulnerable people from abuse?”

Emily

Hi Ella. Wow, great question. I personally find this just as tricky as you do, and agree with everything you say. The issue that I have with this situation is that, before the alleged sexual relationships and financial deals started at this woman’s expense, she was in a vulnerable position, and had made friendships and relationships with those who did not have her best interests at heart. It upsets me that this has somehow been allowed to happen, which has led to her being taken advantage of, whether she was deemed capable of consenting or not.

Regardless of a certain difficulty or disability, I hope this case has been dealt with the severity it deserves; any financial dealings around sex, and domestic abuse, are illegal (this seems to be a ‘glossed over’ part in the article), and I do personally believe that this lady’s condition leads to a much more sensitive case with lots of factors to think about.

As to whether or not I think the verdict was correct, it’s hard to say as I do not know the lady and, as with many things, all cases are different based on the individual and their needs. Her age is a really pivotal part of the case as if she’d been only a few years younger and legally a child, her disability would have only strengthened the horror of the case. With the age she is, however, the court has a real dilemma of treating her just like any other adult, or basing their decision on a child’s case, and effectively demeaning her by doing so. The problem, it seems, is that there are no guidlines for anything inbetween, which this situation obviously is!

I do think that this case and your eagerness to talk about it has made clear that situations like this need to be looked at closely and reviewed with sensitivity. In my opinion, this article highlights the very sad truth that, with correct preventative measures and support for the lady, these awful events would possibly never have happened; this should never have been a case for the court to decide. Apologies for not being able to give you a ‘black and white’ answer, but more than happy to keep chatting things through if you wish to do so.

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Top