Ages of consent in Africa

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Main article: Age of consent
Age of Consent - Global

The ages of consent in Africa for sexual activity varies by jurisdiction across the continent. It ranges from age 12 in Angola to age 20 in Tunisia. The specific activity engaged in or the gender of its participants can also be affected by the law. Below is a discussion of the various laws dealing with this subject. The highlighted age refers to an age at or above which an individual can engage in unfettered sexual relations with another person who is also at or above that age. Other variables, for example homosexual and/or sodomy provision(s) that are illegal or close in age exceptions may exist and are noted when relevant.

The below is a list of all jurisdictions in Africa as listed in List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa.

Algeria[edit]

The age of consent in Algeria is 16 for vaginal intercourse. "Heterosexual Sodomy" (anal and/or oral sex with an opposite-sex partner) is illegal {Article 388 of the Penal Code}. As well as all same-sex sexual conduct {Article 338} and "outrages to public decency" {Article 333}. The punishment for both the first two activities with those under 18 years of age is more severe for the older participant.[citation needed]

Angola[edit]

The age of consent in Angola is 12.[1][2] However, while rarely prosecuted, sexual relations with a child between the ages of 12 and 15 can sometimes be considered sexual abuse which is punishable with up to 8 years in prison.[3]

Benin[edit]

The age of consent in Benin is 18.[4]

Botswana[edit]

The age of consent is 16 for females and 14 for males, but male homosexuality is punishable by 7 years imprisonment.[5]

Burkina Faso[edit]

The age of consent is equally set at 13.[6]

Burundi[edit]

Under the new Penal Code of 2009 (in French), the age of consent in Burundi for heterosexuals (both men and women) is 18 years.[6] However, under Article 567, homosexual acts (both men and women) carry a fine of up to 100,000 Burundian francs and up to 3 years imprisonment.[7]

Cameroon[edit]

The age of consent in Cameroon is 16.[8]

Cape Verde[edit]

The age of consent in Cape Verde is 14.[9]

Central African Republic[edit]

The minimum age of sexual consent is 18 years of age.[9]

Ceuta (Spain)[edit]

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#Spain.

Chad[edit]

The age of consent in Chad is 14 for girls, even if she is married, but the ban is rarely enforced.[10] The age of consent for boys is not known.[clarification needed]

Comoros[edit]

The age of consent in the Comoros is 13.[11]

Côte d'Ivoire[edit]

The age of consent in Côte d'Ivoire is 18.[12]

Democratic Republic of the Congo[edit]

The age of consent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 14 for females and 18 for males.[13]

Djibouti[edit]

The age of consent is 18.[14][15]

Egypt[edit]

The age of consent in Egypt is 18 years, for heterosexual males and females. Sex work is illegal and the sex work law has been used against male and female homosexuals.[16]

Equatorial Guinea[edit]

The age of consent is 18.[17]

Eritrea[edit]

The age of consent in Eritrea is 18, as stipulated by Article 595.[18]

Ethiopia[edit]

The minimum age for consensual sex is 18 years.[9] The law, however, is not enforced, and early childhood marriage is common in rural areas, with girls as young as age 9 subjected to arranged marriages.[19]

Îles Éparses (France)[edit]

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#France.

Gabon[edit]

The age of consent in Gabon is 18.[20]

Gambia[edit]

The age of consent is 18.[21]

Ghana[edit]

The age of consent is 16.[22]

Guinea[edit]

The age of consent is 15.[23]

Guinea-Bissau[edit]

The age of consent is 16.[24]

Kenya[edit]

The age of consent in Kenya is 16 years, for heterosexual males and females, and female homosexuals. Male homosexuals get 25 years in prison.[16]

Lesotho[edit]

The age of consent is 16 for girls (sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 is considered rape), and 14 for boys.[25]

Liberia[edit]

The age of consent in Liberia is 18.[26] Statutory rape is a first-degree rape offense which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The age of consent was raised to 18, from 16, in 2009.[27][28]

Libya[edit]

Not allowed without marriage.[citation needed]

Madagascar[edit]

Age of consent is 14 years, according to article 331 in the Criminal Law. In certain cases, including relatives and homosexuals, it is 21 years.Droit francophone: Code Pénal du 17 juin 1972 mis à jour au 30 juin 1998

Malawi[edit]

The age of consent is 14.[29][30]

Mali[edit]

The age of consent is 18.[31]

Mauritania[edit]

The age of consent is 16.[32] However, under section 306 of the Legal Code, any act that violates Islamic Morality is illegal, but a clear definition of morality does not exist in the country's laws, so it is very open to interpretation by local officials as to what is moral and what is not. Thus, many acts surrounding the age of consent could be considered illegal.[33]

Mauritius[edit]

The age of consent in Mauritius is 16.

Article 249 ‘Rape, attempt upon chastity and illegal sexual intercourse’ of the Penal Code:[34]

(...) Any person who has sexual intercourse with a female under the age of sixteen (16), even with consent, shall be liable to penal servitude not exceeding ten (10) years.

Mayotte (France)[edit]

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#France.

Melilla (Spain)[edit]

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#Spain.

Morocco[edit]

The age of consent is 15, per Art. 484 of the Penal Code.[35]

Mozambique[edit]

The age of consent is 16.[36]

Namibia[edit]

The age of consent is 16 for girls.

‘Sexual offences with girls under sixteen (16) years’, Section 14 of the 'Combating of Immoral Practices Act 1980'

'(1) Any male who

a) has or attempts to have unlawful carnal intercourse with a girl under the age of sixteen (16) years; or

b) commits or attempts to commit with such a girl an immoral or indecent act;

c) solicits or entices such a girl to the commission of an immoral or indecent act, -shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six years with or without a fine not exceeding three thousand rand in addition to such imprisonment.

(2) It shall be a sufficient defence to any charge in terms of this section if it appears to the court -

a) that the girl at the time of the commission of the offence was a prostitute, that the person so charged was at the said time under the age of twenty-one (21) years and that it is the first occasion on which he is so charged; or

b) that the person who charged was at the said time under the age of sixteen (16) years ; and

c) that the girl or person in whose charge she was, deceived the person so charged into believing that she was over the age of sixteen (16) years at the said time.' [37]

Niger[edit]

Article 284 of the Niger legal code sets the age of consent at 13 years.[38]

Nigeria[edit]

The age of consent is 16.[39]

Plazas de soberanía (Spain)[edit]

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#Spain.

Republic of the Congo[edit]

The age of consent in the Republic of the Congo is 18. Sex with a minor is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of 10,000,000 CFA.[40]

Réunion (France)[edit]

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#France.

Rwanda[edit]

The age of consent in Rwanda is 18 years, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.[16]

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic[edit]

São Tomé and Príncipe[edit]

Senegal[edit]

The age of consent in Senegal is 16 (Article 320 deals with children under 16; Article 319 deals with children under 13). Homosexual sex is illegal.[41]

Seychelles[edit]

The age of consent is 18.[42]

Sierra Leone[edit]

The age of consent is 18 under the new Sexual Offenses Act 2012. [43]

Somalia[edit]

Article 29 of the national constitution defines a child as any individual under the age of 18, and stipulates that "every child has the right to be protected from mistreatment, neglect, abuse, or degradation."[44] Homosexual sex is illegal.[45]

South Africa[edit]

The age of consent in South Africa is 16, as specified by sections 15 and 16 read with section 1 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007. Section 15 ("statutory rape") prohibits the commission of "an act of sexual penetration with a child", while section 16 ("statutory sexual assault") prohibits the commission of "an act of sexual violation with a child". Section 1 defines "child" as "with reference to sections 15 and 16, a person 12 years or older but under the age of 16 years".[46] Children under the age of 12 are conclusively presumed by the law to be incapable of consenting, so a sexual act with a child under that age constitutes rape or sexual assault.[47]

History[edit]

Under the Roman-Dutch common law there was a conclusive presumption that girls under the age of 12 were unable to consent to sexual intercourse.[48] This presumption can be traced back to the "old authorities" of the seventeenth century.[49]

The Girls' and Mentally Defective Women's Protection Act, 1916, which replaced the differing age of consent laws of the four colonies that formed the Union of South Africa, criminalised sexual intercourse between a man and a girl under the age of sixteen unless they were married. This act was replaced by a similar prohibition in section 14 of the Immorality Act, 1957. Although sex between men was already illegal, prohibited by the common law as "sodomy" or "unnatural sexual acts", the Immorality Act also criminalised sexual intercourse between a man and a boy under sixteen.

The Immorality Amendment Act, 1969, which was enacted in response to a national moral panic over homosexuality, raised to 19 the age below which the Immorality Act prohibited sex between males. The Immorality Amendment Act, 1988 inserted mirror provisions applying to women, prohibiting intercourse between a woman and a boy under 16 or a girl under 19. It also renamed the Immorality Act to the Sexual Offences Act, 1957.

The Interim Constitution, which came into force in 1994, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as does the final Constitution which replaced in 1997. As a result, the Constitutional Court struck down the laws prohibiting homosexual sex in the 1998 case of National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Justice. That case did not, however, address the difference between the heterosexual and homosexual ages of consent in section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act.

In the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, Parliament reformed and codified the law on sexual offences and made it gender-neutral. The common-law presumption relating to girls under 12 was replaced by a general presumption that children under 12 cannot consent. The act also fixed the age of consent at 16 for all sexual acts. In the 2008 case of Geldenhuys v National Director of Public Prosecutions, the Constitutional Court held that the former difference in the ages of consent had been unconstitutional.[50]

South Sudan[edit]

The age of consent in South Sudan is 18.[51][52][53][54]

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom)[edit]

Sudan[edit]

Against the law if not married '.[55]

Swaziland[edit]

The age of consent is 16.

A girl under the age of fourteen (14) cannot consent to sexual intercourse under criminal law. However, under Statutory Law, according to the Girls and Women Protection Act, a girl under the age of sixteen (16) can not in any way consent to sexual intercourse.[56]

Tanzania[edit]

The age of consent is 18 in Tanzania, but the law is not enforced.[57]

Togo[edit]

The age of consent in Togo is 16.[58]

Tunisia[edit]

The age of consent in Tunisia is 20. However, there appears to be a marital exception in the law that allows a minor over 15 to consent to sex with an adult if the minor is married to the adult.[59]

Uganda[edit]

The age of consent in Uganda is 18 years, for vaginal intercourse. "Heterosexual sodomy" (anal and/or oral sex with an opposite-sex partner) and all same-sex sexual conduct is illegal and can lead to imprisonment.

Zambia[edit]

The age of consent is 16.[60]

Zimbabwe[edit]

The age of consent in Zimbabwe is 16 years for heterosexual males, females and lesbian females. Having sex with a minor gives rise to charges of statutory rape. Case law gives guidance to the years of imprisonment, with age difference between participants playing a role in sentencing (usually between 12 to 16).[citation needed] All male same-sex hand-holding and/or male same-sex sexual conduct can lead to one year's imprisonment.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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