In most countries of the world, adolescents above a certain age can be legally emancipated through marriage, economic self-sufficiency, pregnancy or by other means. The marriageable age is generally below the age of majority and in some cases below the legal age of consent. Having sexual relations with emancipated minors is not considered pedophilia.
Sexual desires including youths are common among adults with a heterosexual or homosexual orientation, though their attraction is not specifically to persons that young. Only when it is a specific and exclusive attraction, is it labeled ephebophilia as a sexual condition or orientation. It should also be noted that unlike pedophilia, attraction to adolescents has never been regarded by psychologists as pathological. In fact, it has often been considered normative in some societies, such as those in which adolescent girls have been married to adult men. Nonetheless, it is often illegal for adults to act on an attraction to adolescents below a certain age, and such activity is disapproved of in many societies.
In Japanese society the attraction towards teenage girls (high-school students) is a widespread cultural phenomenon. The manifestations of such attraction, such as lolicon art, school uniform fetishes and sexual relations with teenage girls (e.g. enjo kosai) are more tolerated by society than in the West, but are often illegal.
In France and in most of the Francophone world, this kind of relationship is also accepted. Movies like Brodeuses ("A common thread"
(2003) usually show these relationships in a casual way, not giving much importance or attention to the difference of age. Nabokov's "Lolita"-the book-was first released in France (in 1955), while Adrian Lyne's 1997 film Lolita" faced no restrictions in all of Europe, including France; and Celine Dion's "Lolita"-the song-was released only in French by the Canadian bilingual singer. The movie "Pretty Baby" (1978)-depicting 12-year old Brooke Shields playing a preteen prostitute-was filmed by a Frenchman, Louis Malle.
Another society with a tolerance for such relationships is Brazil, where ageism or prejuidicial treatment on the grounds of age has been forbidden by the Brazilian Constitution since 1998. In 1999, 28-year old Marcio Garcia, a nationally famous actor, dated 14-year old model Daniella Sarahyba for over a year in which period the relationship was accepted by the Brazilian mainstream media and by the television network which he worked for. Also in the 1990s 13-year old Kelly Key, who would become a famous singer, started dating 23-year old singer Latino, whom she married later on. Before that, in 1982, 40-year-old Caetano Veloso-a famous Brazilian singer and composer-began a relationship with 13-year-old Paula Lavigne, though he was already married at the time. He divorced and married Lavigne 3 years later. Their marriage lasted 19 years, ending only in 2004. The relationship was respected and he was not persecuted by the media or music industry. None were named as pedophiles, an accusation that could be considered as slander in Brazil.
Reactions to adult-adolescent relationships may be considered by some as a prejudice like racism or the hatred against immigrants: ageism. In the 1980s, 15-year-old Brazilian student Eliane Maciel sought for judicial help against her conservative parents. She wanted the judge to rule that she had the right to date a 33-year old man with whom she was in love, and she won. They eventually married. Her drama was told in the 1983 autobiographical best-seller Com licenša, eu vou Ó luta-╔ ilegal ser menor? ("Excuse me, I'm gonna fight-Is it illegal to be a minor?"
, which adapted for a prize-winning 1986 film.
In many countries, sexual attraction, desires or fantasies in adults towards underage adolescents is quite common. A sign of this is that, in the adult porn industry, a reasonable market share goes to movies that show young women dressed in uniforms, characterized as high-school students. Some of these movies are regularly aired on popular adult channels like Playboy TV.
The percentage of pedophile perpetrators in cases of child sexual abuse is estimated to be 2 to 10 percent (Kinsey-Report, Lautmann, Brongersma, Groth). Abuse is mainly a phenomenon of heterosexual and homosexual orientation.
The United States Department of Justice3 reports 5.3 percent of sex offenders released in 1994 re-arrested for another sex crime within 3 years of release. The figure for child molesters was 3.3 percent.
Most cases of father-daughter incest are believed to involve fathers who are situational offenders, rather than pedophiles4. Some have argued that these cases are triggered by the withdrawal of the mother from the family, often due to physical or mental illness.
Legally, relationships between adults and adolescents do not necessarily include sex. Most of them involve sexual attraction. Courting a teenager below the age of consent is legal in some jurisdictions, especially when the adolescent's age is above the marriageable age. In other jurisdictions, this may be illegal.
There are a number of organisations and web-based communities, together referred to as the childlove movement, that seek to remove the stigma from pedophilia. Goals for these organisations and communities range from wanting to legalise sexual relationships between adults and children or teenagers, to merely offering a place for support and advice to those with a sexual attraction to children.
* The North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) advocates legalisation of consensual sexual relationships between boys and men.
* MARTIJN is a Netherlands-based advocate of adult-child sex.
* BoyChat (http://www.boychat.org/) is a support forum for male-attracted pedophiles.
* Girl Chat (http://www.annabelleigh.net/) is a support forum for female-attracted pedophiles.
* Pedophiles Against Child Molestation (PACM) (http://www.forumbolt.com/index.php?mforum=pacm) is an organisation of conscientious pedophiles opposed to child abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
* tkGL.net (http://www.tkgl.net/forums) is a support forum similar to Girl Chat featuring personal testimonies, on-topic debates (both pro and anti), and coverage of related news/media.