Workers Vanguard No. 944
9 October 2009
Down With Age of Consent Laws! Government Out of the Bedroom!
Free Helen Goddard!
We reprint below a letter to the Southwark Crown Court by the Partisan Defence Committee, published in Workers Hammer No. 208 (Autumn 2009), newspaper of the Spartacist League/Britain, section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). The PDC is a class-struggle legal and social defense organization associated with the SL/B. Since the publication of this letter, Helen Goddard has been sentenced by a British court to 15 months in prison. She has also been banned from working with children and placed on the “Sex Offenders Register” for ten years. We demand her immediate freedom.
The Partisan Defence Committee demands the immediate dropping of all charges against 26-year-old music teacher Helen Goddard, a victim of the government’s anti-sex witch hunt. Goddard, nicknamed the “Jazz Lady” by her students, is due to be sentenced on 21 September in Southwark Crown Court under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for the “crime” of having had sex with a 15-year-old female pupil. According to the Telegraph online, having admitted six counts of sex with the girl who is under the age of consent, Goddard now faces a possible sentence of up to 14 years in prison and has been ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register.
Goddard and the pupil at City of London School for Girls were involved in a close and sexual relationship, a perfectly natural thing that should be no business of either the school or the state. There is no suggestion from anyone, including the girl’s parents, that the sex was anything but consensual. Now Goddard’s promising career as a musician and teacher is in tatters, she has been thrown to the media wolves, both her and her partner’s personal lives violated.
The puritanical witch hunt against “sex offenders” waged by the Blair and Brown Labour governments is a modern-day version of Christian fundamentalist crusades against “sin.” Adults engaged in inter-generational sex, especially between teachers and pupils, are treated as though they are de facto child rapists and murderers. The Sex Offenders Register is a witch hunter’s charter, containing thousands of names of totally innocent people—e.g., some merely cautioned for possessing “dirty” pictures—now blacklisted, stigmatised and worse for the rest of their lives.
State interference aims at regimenting society to conform to the mythical sexual “norm” of one man on one woman for life, denying the complexity and variety innate in human sexuality. State repression will not alter the fact that children and teenagers develop sexual attractions towards other children and adults, including their teachers. “Age of consent” laws giving the capitalist state the right to determine at what age youth can engage in sex are an invasion of privacy. The guiding principle in these matters should be that of mutual effective consent.
We protest the gross abuse perpetrated by the state on Helen Goddard and demand: Drop the charges now!