in reply to Re^11: Converting Unicode
in thread Converting Unicode

Perl assumes everything (except newlines) is bytes unless you tell it otherwise. Python 2 did the same. Python 3 assumes (almost) everything is utf-8 unless you tell it otherwise. Of the three, Python 3 is arguably the most broken. I can attest to this having to occasionally work with python and ISO-8859-15 files.

Tom Christiansen's answer on Stack Overflow seems to be the definitive answer to why perl doesn't do it this way. perldoc perluniintro, perlunitut, perlunifaq, and perlunicode should give you most of what you want to know about unicode in perl.