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4 Feb, 2009 23:52

No jail for young man in underage sex case

A Moscow court has ruled that an 18-year-old man will not be jailed for having a sexual relationship with his girlfriend of just 14, who is now pregnant. The court decided that psychiatric issues were involved.

Underage sex is a crime under Russian law and the boy risked not only jail, but missing the birth of his first child.

The young man will be undergoing psychiatric tests for a month in a special clinic.

He was not given a suspended sentence and will be free to go once the tests have been conducted.

For the expectant parents it should be a happy time. Except this is no ordinary family. The mother to be, Dasha, is 14 years old, while the father is four years older at 18.

Misha has broken the law. He has been charged with having sex with a minor. If convicted, he could have been jailed for up to four years.

Misha's main defence is that he believed Dasha was 16.

The couple are now mostly concerned with making a home for the baby, which is due in a matter of weeks.

They’re staying at Misha’s mother’s house, where space is at a premium.

Talking to RT just days before the verdict, they remained defiant – they said they would be together no matter what.

“I think everything will be just fine. We love each other. And we’ll be together till our last days,” Misha said.

“I don’t think it may be perfect, but still I hope we’ll succeed,” Dasha echoed.

Misha’s mother, meanwhile, was petrified that her teenage son might go to jail. She had advised her boy not to have sex, but told him to practice safe sex if he did.

“I am simply exhausted as the thing has been going on since August. Whatever the court rules, I will not contest it,” Misha's mother Olga said.

“I think here there are grounds for commutation and if the authorities allow them to get married legally, it would be also possible to exempt him from punishment,” said lawyer Vyacheslav Makarov.

It was claimed Dasha’s grandmother contacted the police about Misha and Dasha's illegal sexual relationship – a claim she in turn denied.

“I didn’t,” Natalya said: “I went to the doctor right away to find out how long gone she was, or whether she was that way at all. I didn’t go to the police.”

An organisation dedicated to advising young mums got involved. It said Dasha's feelings and views were not being considered.

The case has highlighted the large number of under-age mothers in Russia and the lack of support for them – an issue that welfare groups say needs raising.

The law is there to protect underage girls like Dasha. But some commentators are saying that in this case common sense prevailed, and the father was let off prosecution so he can support his girlfriend and their baby.

*RT has changed the names and blurred the girl’s image on the video to protect her identity as the age of consent is 16 in Russia.