Ages of consent in Asia
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The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Asia, from age 13 to age 21. 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 who is also at or above that age. Other variables, for example homosexual relations or close in age exceptions may exist and are noted when relevant, for example in Indonesia.
The below is a list of all jurisdictions in Asia as listed in List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Asia.
- 1 Afghanistan
- 2 Akrotiri and Dhekelia (United Kingdom)
- 3 Armenia
- 4 Azerbaijan
- 5 Bahrain
- 6 Bangladesh
- 7 Bhutan
- 8 Brunei
- 9 Myanmar
- 10 Cambodia
- 11 China
- 12 India
- 13 Indonesia
- 14 Iran
- 15 Iraq
- 16 Israel
- 17 Japan
- 18 Jordan
- 19 Kazakhstan
- 20 Kuwait
- 21 Kyrgyzstan
- 22 Laos
- 23 Lebanon
- 24 Malaysia
- 25 Maldives
- 26 Mongolia
- 27 Nepal
- 28 North Korea
- 29 Oman
- 30 Pakistan
- 31 Philippines
- 32 Qatar
- 33 Russian Federation
- 34 Saudi Arabia
- 35 Singapore
- 36 South Korea
- 37 Sri Lanka
- 38 Syria
- 39 Taiwan
- 40 Tajikistan
- 41 Thailand
- 42 Turkey
- 43 Turkmenistan
- 44 United Arab Emirates
- 45 Uzbekistan
- 46 Vietnam
- 47 Yemen
- 48 See also
- 49 References
Akrotiri and Dhekelia (United Kingdom)
For both of these Sovereign Base Areas (British military enclaves) on the island of Cyprus, the age of consent is 16.
The age of consent in Armenia is 16.
Article 141. Sexual acts with a person under 16.
Sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with a person obviously under 16, by a person who reached 18 years of age, in the absence of elements of crime envisaged in Articles 138, 139 or 140 of this Code, is punished with correctional labor for the term of up to 2 years, or with imprisonment for the term of up to 2 years.
The age of consent in Azerbaijan is 16.
Sexual intercourse with the person below the age of 16 years-old, as well as the same offences linked with satisfaction of sexual passion in perverted forms shall be punished by imprisonment up to 3 years.
The age of consent in Bahrain is 21.
The age of consent in Bhutan is 18.
The age of consent in Brunei is 16.
Article 2 of this Act determines the offence as follows: Any person who has or attempts to have carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of sixteen (16) years except by way of marriage, shall be guilty of an offence: Penalty, imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 2 years and not more than 7 years and to whipping not exceeding 24 strokes of the rattan in the case of an adult or 12 strokes of the rattan in the case of a youthful offender.
A man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions:
First.-- Against her will.
Secondly.-- Without her consent.
Thirdly—With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt.
Fourthly. – With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
Fifthly. – With or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years.
The age of consent in this country is determined by Article 8, of Chapter 4 (Debauchery) of the Law on Suppression of the Kidnapping, Trafficking, and Exploitation of Human Beings, which has been specifically enacted to prohibit sex with children under 15. The law prohibits "debauchery" with a child under 15, and this term (the original Cambodian word is “anacha”) has been interpreted by courts to forbid any form of sexual conduct (both consensual and non-consensual; both 'ordinary' sex and paid sex) with a child under 15. This is the main legal tool used against foreigners engaging in child sex tourism in Cambodia.
Any person who commits acts of debauchery involving a minor below 15 years old, even if there is consent from the concerned minor, or even if the person has bought such minor from someone else or from a pimp, shall be punished by ten (10) to twenty (20) years in prison. In case of repeat offenses, the maximum punishment term shall be applied.
In Hong Kong the age of consent for sexual activity is 16 for heterosexual couples.
Under s.124 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap.200), a man who has unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years. Under s.123 of the Crimes Ordinance, a man who has unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13 shall be liable to imprisonment for life.
Under s.122 of the Crimes Ordinance, a person under the age of 16 cannot in law give any consent which would prevent an act being an assault for the purposes of indecent assault. Hence, a woman who has sexual intercourse with a boy under 16 will be prosecuted under this section.
The previous position regarding homosexual couples is contained in s.118C which provides that a man who commits or suffers to commit buggery with a man under the age of 21 is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life. However, this section was struck down as unconstitutional in Leung TC William Roy v Secretary for Justice.
The general age of consent in Macau is 16, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. Although people under the age of 18 years old are considered minors, the Criminal Code does not criminalize sex with people older than 16 years of age (except in the specific case of minors aged 16 to 18 years old entrusted to an adult for education or assistance purposes whom have abused such position (article 167/1(b) of the Macau Criminal Code).
Sex with minors younger than 14 years old is more severely punished (1 to 8 years imprisonment) than with minors aged 14 to 16 years old (up to 4 years imprisonment if the perpetrator abused the minor's inexperience). Anal sex, irrespective of being heterosexual or homosexual, has an aggravated punishment (3 to 10 years of jail if practiced with a minor under the age of 14 and up to 4 years if practiced with an older minor).
In 1892, the marital rape and subsequent death of an 11 year-old girl, caused the age of consent to be raised from 10 to 12. In 1949, it was raised to 15 after agitation from women groups about the adverse effect of early pregnancy. In 1982, it was again raised to 16. In 2012, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill raised the age to 18. Although, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 initially sought to lower the age to 16, but it was set at 18 due to political pressure from conservative parties.
Exception: ″Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under sixteen years of age, is not sexual assault.″
The Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, an old British-era law, bans "carnal intercourse against the order of nature". It was used to prosecute people for having anal or oral sex, although prosecutions are rare. The law was constitutionally challenged at the Delhi High Court in 2009 for violating the human rights of sexual minorities. But, after the Delhi High Court declared some parts of the law unconstitutional on the issue, the age of consent for consensual homosexual sex was set at 18. However, on 11 December 2013, the Supreme Court of India overturned the verdict.
In Indonesia the national age of consent for heterosexual sexual activity is 19 years for males and 16 years for females. The age of consent for homosexuals is 18. In 2002, the Indonesian Government gave Aceh province the right to introduce Islamic sharia, albeit only to Muslim residents. Fifty two regions have since enacted sharia law from the Qur'an, which criminalizes homosexuality.
In Iran, sex outside marriage, regardless of age, is illegal. The minimum age of marriage in Iran is 18 for men and 16 for women. Ways around these regulations include temporary marriages (Nikah mut‘ah).
The age of consent in Iraq is 18. "Any person who sexually assaults a boy or girl under the age of 18 without the use of force, menaces or deception is punishable by detention..."
"Any person who has sexual intercourse with a female relative to the third generation under the age of 15 with her consent and the offence leads to her death, to pregnancy or loss of virginity [is punishable by death]."
According to the Israeli Penal Code of 1977 the age of consent in Israel is 16 for any form of sexual relations involving penetration. A special case arises when a person aged 14 or 15 had sexual relations with an older partner; in this case the older partner would be exempt of criminal liability if three conditions are met: the age difference between the partners was less than three years, the younger partner gave consent and the act was done out of "regular friendly relations" and without the abuse of power.
The age of consent throughout Japan is generally 18, but 13 in certain circumstances, due to a combination of national and prefectural laws.
The Japanese Penal Code sets a minimal age of consent of 13. However, all prefectures and districts have (largely similar) "obscenity ordinances" (淫行条例) that forbid "fornication" (淫行) with anyone under 18 years of age, but exempt sex in the context of a sincere romantic relationship or with parental approval.
The age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys, with parental consent, or 20 otherwise.
The age of consent in Jordan is 18 for sex outside of marriage, although females over 15 can consent to sex if they are married to their partner.
The age of consent in Kazakhstan is 16, according to article 122 of the Criminal Code.
Article 122. Sexual Intercourse and Other Actions of a Sexual Character with a Person Under Sixteen Years of Age
Sexual intercourse, sodomy, or lesbianism or other acts of sexual nature, with a person who did not reach sixteen years of age, the guilty party being aware of that fact, shall be punished by restriction of freedom for a period up to three years, or by detention under arrest for a period up to six months, or deprivation of freedom for a period up to five years.
The age of consent in Kyrgyzstan is 16.
The age of consent for sex in Lebanon is 18 for both males and females. If the partners are married to one another they can have sexual relations at 15.
Article 505 of the Penal Code
Approximate translation: " Whoever commits a sexual act with a minor of less than fifteen (15) years, shall be punished with hard labor of up to fifteen (15) years. This penalty shall be for a minimum of five (5) years, if the victim has not attained the age of twelve (12) years. And whoever commits a sexual act with a minor aged more than fifteen (15) years but less than eighteen (18) years, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period varying between 2 months and 2 years ".
Sodomy is punishable with imprisonment not exceeding one year.
In Lebanon homosexuality is illegal.
The age of consent for sex in Malaysia is 16 for both sexes.
Rape. A man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the following descriptions: (...) Sixthly – With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.
Sexual activity outside marriage is illegal in Maldives. The legal age of marriage is 18 for both males and females although half the females are married by the age of 15.
The age of consent in Mongolia is 16, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.
Article 110. Sexual intercourse with a person below the age of 16 years shall be punished to imprisonment for a term not to exceeding 3 years or to correctional work not exceeding 1 years and 6 months.
The age of consent in Nepal is 18.
The age of consent in North Korea is 15. Article 153 of the criminal law states that a man who has sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 15 shall be "punished gravely."
The age of consent in the Philippines is complex. Interpol lists the age of consent of Philippines as 18. However, the adult involved in perpetrating the lewd act cannot be prosecuted due to limitations in the law. Sex with a child under 12 is considered rape.
However, for the purposes of child pornography, the country still adopts the international definition of a child in all its legislations, which is below 18 years old and although above eighteen, but with a mental capacity of a child below 18. According to Section 5 of the Republic Act N°7610, pictures taken of a lewd act by an adult in the locations mentioned in Section 6 of the Republic Act N°7610 of a child under 18, as well as the manager or owner of the establishment where the prostitution takes place can be prosecuted if the child has sex "due to the coercion or influence" from that adult or if the child is paid (see below).
Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 12 is defined as rape:
- Chapter Three
- "Article 266-A. Rape: When And How Committed. – Rape is committed: "1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
"a) Through force, threat, or intimidation; "b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; "c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and "d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.
In regard to children under the age of 18, the law reads (as described earlier in the act as an individual under the age of 18):
- Article III, Section 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse .
- Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.
The age of consent in Russia is 16. See Russian Federation's entry at Ages of consent in Europe.
Any kind of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but there is no restriction on the age of marriage. A prohibition on marriage under the age of 14 was being considered by the Ministry of Justice in late 2008. According to cleric Ahmad Al-Mu’bi, the appropriate minimum age for sex "varies according to environment and traditions."
The age of consent in Singapore is 16 for all opposite-sex activity and only female same-sex sexual activity: Section 140: (1) Any person who – (...) (i) has carnal connection with any girl below the age of 16 years except by way of marriage (...) – shall be guilty of an offence.
Under section 377A (outrages on decency) in the Penal Code states that; Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years. This means that all male same-sex sexual activity (including mutual masturbation, oral and/or anal sex) is still illegal and the punishment is up to two (2) years jail, based on the Offences Against The Person Act 1861.
According to Section 305 of the Criminal Law of the Republic of Korea, a person who engages in a sexual intercourse with female minor, but not a male minor, who did not yet and will not turn the Western age (as opposed to the Korean age reckoning) of 13 in the year the event has occurred is guilty of rape and shall be fined and or punished by penal labor for the duration that exceeds 3 years (the Criminal Law specifically states to punish a person who raped a female minor or adult, which means engaging in a voluntary or involuntary sexual intercourse with a male minor or adult is not a Criminal Law definition of rape in either case.)
However, the Act on the Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Abuse, created in 2011, supersedes Section 305 of the Criminal Law . According to the ACT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND JUVENILES FROM SEXUAL ABUSE, a person is a minor until January 1 of the year in which he or she will turn 19 (this is also the day on which he or she is considered 20 years old by Korean age reckoning). The punishment is penal labor for a term of not less than 5 years. According to Article 7 Verse 5 of the ACT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND JUVENILES FROM SEXUAL ABUSE, if a person engages in a sexual intercourse with a juvenile by force or deception, it is considered rape. The phrase "by force" is an ambiguous translation of Korean word wi-ryeok (위력). According to Supreme Court precedents, the word wi-ryeok means : being physically stronger, or being older, or having more money, or being a government employee, or having anything that can put a person in a better position than a juvenile. For example, if a person who is older than a juvenile engages in a sexual intercourse with the juvenile, it is considered rape. The Korean word gan-eum(간음) can be translated to either "rape" or "adultery". In the original Korean text, Article 7 Verse 5 says: if a person with wi-ryeok commits gan-eum with a juvenile, it is considered rape. The closest translation of this sentence is this : If a person (who is stronger than a juvenile, or older than a juvenile, or richer than a juvenile, or a government employee, or in a better position than a juvenile) commits adultery with a juvenile, it is considered rape. Westerners have hard time understanding the exact meaning of the word wi-ryeok because the common translation of wi-ryeok is "force" but in Western culture, being older or being senior has nothing to do with "force." Furthermore, the word gan-eum is often translated to "rape" but this word also includes "adultery" in its meaning. Consequently, even though the ACT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND JUVENILES FROM SEXUAL ABUSE clearly states that it is considered rape when a person who is older than a juvenile engages in a sexual intercourse with the juvenile, many Westerners are misinformed about this law because of ambiguous translations. Again, the ACT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND JUVENILES FROM SEXUAL ABUSE clearly states that a person who is under 19 and will not turn 19 in the year in which the act is committed is considered a juvenile. (Korean age reckoning is never used in South Korean laws therefore the age of consent in South Korea is 20 in Korean age.) In South Korea, judges have right to interpret the law and this is how the majority of judges interpret the ACT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND JUVENILES FROM SEXUAL ABUSE.
The age of consent in Sri Lanka is 16.
363. A man is said to commit "rape" who enactment has sexual intercourse with, a woman under circumstances falling under any of the following descriptions:
(e) with or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age, unless the woman is his wife who is over twelve years of age and is not judicially separated from the man.
365B. (1) Grave sexual abuse is committed any person who, for sexual gratification, does any act, by the use of his genitals or any other part of the human body or any Instrument on any orifice or part of the body of any other person, being an act which does not amount to rape under section 363, in circumstances falling under any of the following descriptions, that is to say:
(a) without the consent of the other person;
(aa) with or without the consent of the other person when the other person is under sixteen years of age;
The age of consent in Syria is 15, per Article 491.
1. Every person who has sexual intercourse with a minor under 15 years of age shall be liable to a term of nine years imprisonment at hard labour.
2.The said term shall be not less than 15 years if the child is under 12 years of age.
The age of consent in Taiwan is 16 regardless of sex. The sentence is reduced or exempted if the offender is under 19. If the offender is under 18, it's an offense indictable only upon a complaint.
The age of consent in Tajikistan is 16, as specified in article 141 of the Criminal Code. The penalty is specified as deprivation of freedom for 2 to 5 years.
Article 141. Sexual Intercourse And Other Actions of Sexual Character With an Individual Under 16 Years of Age
(1) Sexual intercourse, homosexuality or lesbianism committed by an individual at the age of 18 years with an individual under 16 years of age when there are no elements of the crime stipulated by Article 138 and Article 139 of the present Code, is punishable by deprivation of freedom for a period of 2 to 5 years.
It should be noted, however, that articles 138 and 139 provide harsher penalties for Rape and Forcible sex against minors, including the possible death penalty for rape of a girl under 14.
The age of consent in Thailand is 15 (with the below caveat) as specified by article 279 of the Thai Criminal Code. The current legislation applies to all regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.
However, parts of the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act, which disallow any sexual contact with prostitutes under the age of 18, are widely interpreted by some local authorities to cover sexual acts classed as "obscenity for personal gratification". Also from the Penal Code Amendment Act of 1997 Section 283bis, having sex with a child under 18 is a compoundable offense even with the consent of that person. The parent or the child may file charges against the other side if he or she later regrets his or her own action. This ostensibly makes the Thai unfettered age of consent 18.
A high profile example of this application of the law was a statutory rape charge filed against the lead singer of the Thai band Big Ass for allegedly having had sex with a (then) 16-year-old girl. The charge was filed by the girl after the singer refused to take responsibility for her baby. The singer has since been cleared of being the baby's father due to the results of a paternity test and he received 2 years suspended sentence.
The age of consent in Turkey is 18. See Turkey's entry at Ages of consent in Europe.
The age of consent in Turkmenistan is 16.
United Arab Emirates
The age of consent in Uzbekistan is 16 for heterosexual males (oral sex for homosexual males) and both lesbian and heterosexual females. Only male homosexual anal intercourse is punishable with imprisonment for up to 3 years (called Besoqolbozlik).
Sexual relations with a person under sixteen (16) years of age, Clause 128 of the Criminal Code: (1) A sexual relation or satisfaction of sex requirements in the unnatural form with a person who was obviously less than sixteen (16) years old, shall be punished by corrective labour measures for up to two (2) years or by the arrest up to six (6) months, or with imprisonment for up to three (3) years.
There is discrepancy in the reported age of consent in Vietnam. Section 4 of article 112 of the Penal Code states that "All cases of having sexual intercourse with children under 13 years old are considered rape against children and the offenders shall be sentenced to between twelve and twenty years of imprisonment, life imprisonment or capital punishment." In 2009, this article was amended to remove capital punishment. Article 115 further provides for imprisonment for 1 to 5 years for sexual intercourse with persons aged 13 to 16.
Article 115.- Having sexual intercourse with children 1.Any adults having sexual intercourse with children aged from full 13 to under 16 shall be sentenced to between one and five years of imprisonment.
Furthermore, Article 111 states that "rape against a juvenile aged between full 16 and under 18 years old, the offenders shall be sentenced to between five and ten years of imprisonment."
Any kind of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal in Yemen. Until recently, Yemeni law set the age of consent at 15. But tribal customs often trump the law. In practice, "Yemeni law allows girls of any age to wed, but it forbids sex with them until the indefinite time they’re 'suitable for sexual intercourse.'" In 1999, the minimum marriage age of fifteen for women, rarely enforced, was abolished; the onset of puberty, interpreted by conservatives to be at the age of nine, was set as a requirement for consummation of marriage.
In April 2008, the case of Nujood Ali, a 10 year-old girl who successfully obtained a divorce, sparked headlines around the world, and prompted calls to raise the legal age for marriage to 18. Later in 2008, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood proposed to define the minimum age for marriage at 18 years. The law was passed in April 2009, but dropped the following day following maneuvers by opposing parliamentarians. Negotiations to pass the legislation continue. In September 2013, an 8-year-old girl died due to internal injuries caused by sexual intercourse with a 40-year-old man, after their arranged wedding.
- Age of consent
- Age of consent reform
- Ages of consent in Africa
- Ages of consent in Oceania
- Ages of consent in Europe
- Ages of consent in North America
- Ages of consent in South America
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