When Russell and I began texting, he asked me to send some photos of myself in the bath. It was 2006 and my Motorola Razr phone had only ever been used to take pixelated photos of my classmates. I didn’t oblige. When I told him my age, before our first date, he asked me never to send him any nude photographs. That would have been a crime. At that age I wasn’t legally allowed to watch pornography for two more years. I couldn’t vote; I couldn’t drink; but I was free to date a man in his seventies if I wanted.
There was nothing my parents could do to stop the relationship with Russell; no legal recourse. My mother tried everything — grounding me, taking away my phone, even going to see Russell to remind him that I had parents who loved me — but like many 16-year-olds I was headstrong and thought I was so mature. He told me I was grown up and I believed it. My mum couldn’t go to the police, much as she wanted to, because what would she have said? My daughter is 16 but in a relationship with an adult man? It wasn’t illegal.
OK. Either you’re of age or you’re not. So, which is it?