Riigikogu to discuss raising age of consent next week

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Session Hall at the Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The legal affairs committee of the Riigikogu will start handling next week the political and legislative aftermath of the scandal concerning a long-term football coach of the Nõmme Kalju FC football club, chairman of the committee Jaanus Karilaid (Center) told newspaper Postimees.

After stories were published last week about the football coach engaged in a sexual relationship with female football players when they were minors and, in one case, with a 14-year-old girl, public pressure has grown to raise the age of consent higher than the current 14 years.

In February, the opposition Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) submitted a bill seeking to raise the age of consent to 16 years; however, Minister of Justice Maris Lauri from the Reform Party said that the bill contained a number of inconsistencies with criminal law.

The hearing of experts in the field is scheduled for March 23 in the legal affairs committee, and first, established case-law on sexual abuse and the constituent elements thereof will be examined in detail, Karilaid said.

"We'll also hear what prosecutors and judges have to say on the matter. Only then can we update or specify the relevant laws, if needed. A safe environment for development must be better ensured to young people in particular, however. Punishments alone are not sufficient for catching perverts, it is also directly linked to the vigilance of society and civil society organizations. All of this must be examined together," Karilaid said.

The age of consent in 17 countries in the European Union is either 14 or 15 and 10 countries say consent can only be given over the age of 16.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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