Returning, as we should occasionally do, to more mundane times and things, I would like to tell readers of just one example of how we are ruled, bullied and pushed around in our everyday lives.
Imagine, if you would, that you are a woman, married to a man who has been inflicted by Down’s Syndrome. Despite the obvious drawbacks of his state, you have fallen in love with him and married him. You are happy together, but, over the years, you have been unable to become pregnant; so you apply to the Council for fertility treatment.
A council psychologist ruled that the husband did not have the mental capacity to consent to sex, and a social worker warned you that if you had sex with your husband you would be committing an offence that can be punished with a 14-year-jail sentence.
The case was described as ‘unique’ by Court of Protection judge Sir Mark Hedley, who ordered the council which employed the social workers to pay compensation.
The award was made not because of the social workers’ threat or the suppression of their sex life, but because the local authority delayed in providing the husband with sex education. The psychologist had said a sex education course would give him the capacity to consent to sex.
Sir Mark did not name the couple and, in keeping with the habitual secrecy of the Court of Protection, the metropolitan council has also remained unnamed and will be shielded from public criticism.
The judge said in his ruling, delivered at the High Court in Leeds and published yesterday, that the couples’ sex life came to an end for almost two years on 27 March 2015. The wife, he said, ‘was advised that she must abstain from sexual intercourse with her husband as that would, given his lack of capacity to consent, comprise a serious criminal offence.’
Under the Sexual Offences Act of 2003, clauses designed to protect vulnerable people from abuse make it an offence to engage in ‘sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice.’ Conviction can bring a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.
The wife was told that if she continued to have sex with her husband, social workers would take ‘safeguarding measures’ to remove either her husband or herself from the home they shared with his parents.
Sir Mark said the wife moved into a separate bedroom, a snub her husband could not understand. The judge said: ‘In order not to lead him on she significantly reduced any physical expressions of affection. The impact of all this on the husband is not difficult to imagine.’
And all, this because some ‘effing Social Worker did not do her job correctly, did not understand the Law under which she worked, and the consequent vicious overreaction of the two-year enforced physical separation of this loving couple!