Monday, July 25, 2011

Raising the Legal Age From 16 to 18

"Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger

Cuba: Raising the Legal Age From 16 to 18
Posted: 7/24/11 03:16 PM ET

Going to a movie theater to see adult films, buying a beer in some bar,
or being hired as an employee, are some of the proofs that we have
arrived at the age of majority. When we are 14 or 15 years old, every
day brings us closer to that legal adulthood we await so anxiously. We
approach a milestone that we flaunt in front of friends, while reminding
our parents that we are no longer so small, that they can no longer
treat us like children. But the sensations associated with reaching 16
are quite distinct from those that overwhelm us when our children reach
the age of legal responsibility. It's exactly then that we realize how
physically and mentally immature they are to take on so much responsibility.

I am reflecting on this because my son will reach the age of majority
this coming August. He will then be ready-according to the law-to buy
alcoholic beverages, to be drafted into the army, or to go to prison.
From that moment, nothing he does will be treated by the criminal code
as if he were a minor. He could even be called to die or to kill in a
war, a not ridiculous option in today's Cuba. All the teenagers born in
the difficult year of 1995 will pass through, in this 2011, the barrier
between childhood and adulthood. And I say, without maternal excess,
that they are too young, too fragile, to face the burden of being
considered adults by a legal system that does not correspond to
international norms.

Several weeks ago, the United Nations asked the Cuban authorities to
raise the age of majority to 18 years. But there is little hope that
such a demand will become fact. Were it to be successful, all the women
between 16 and 17 who are selling their bodies to tourists would become
minors trapped in child prostitution. And postponing the end of
childhood would also deprive the government of a great number of
voters-easier to manipulate-in local elections. And, of course, it would
temporarily prolong the ascendancy of parents over their children, to
the detriment of that of the State over these young citizens.

Now that I am more than twice the age required to exchange the card of a
minor for the ID of an adult, I realize they robbed me of a couple of
years; that an incorrect legislation placed a responsibility on my
shoulders that I did not have the discernment to assume. At that time, I
enjoyed it as if it were a letter of freedom, but today I see it as the
loss of a legal protection that was my right.

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