Ages of consent in Asia
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The legal age of consent for sexual activity varies by jurisdiction across Asia, from age 12 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 Consent by Age
- 2 Afghanistan
- 3 Bahrain
- 4 Bangladesh
- 5 Bhutan
- 6 Brunei
- 7 Cambodia
- 8 China
- 9 East Timor
- 10 India
- 11 Indonesia
- 12 Iran
- 13 Iraq
- 14 Israel
- 15 Japan
- 16 Jordan
- 17 Kuwait
- 18 Kyrgyzstan
- 19 Laos
- 20 Lebanon
- 21 Malaysia
- 22 Maldives
- 23 Mongolia
- 24 Myanmar
- 25 Nepal
- 26 North Korea
- 27 Oman
- 28 Pakistan
- 29 Palestinian Territories
- 30 Philippines
- 31 Qatar
- 32 Saudi Arabia
- 33 Singapore
- 34 South Korea
- 35 Sri Lanka
- 36 Syria
- 37 Taiwan
- 38 Tajikistan
- 39 Thailand
- 40 Turkmenistan
- 41 United Arab Emirates
- 42 Uzbekistan
- 43 Vietnam
- 44 Yemen
- 45 See also
- 46 References
Consent by Age
|Age of Consent||Countries (links are to sections in this article)|
|13||Japan, South Korea|
|14||Bangladesh, China, East Timor, Israel (not involving penetration), Macau, Myanmar|
|15||Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, North Korea, Syria|
|16||Brunei, Hong Kong (heterosexual and male same-sex), Israel (involving penetration), Indonesia (regarding sexual encounters with girls), Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine (West Bank), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (regarding sex between females, heterosexual acts, and oral sex between males), Vietnam|
|18||Bhutan, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Thailand|
|19||Indonesia (regarding sexual encounters with boys)|
|Must be Married||Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine (Gaza Strip), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen (may be superseded by tribal law)|
Sexual activity outside marriage is illegal in Afghanistan. The minimum age of marriage in Afghanistan is 10 for men and 9 for women. In practice, a UN report suggests that more than half of all girls marry before 15 years of age, often for the purposes of settling disputes.
The age of consent in Bahrain is 21 regardless of gender or sexual orientation. According to Article 345 [s amended by Legislative Decree n. 7, 1985] The penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years will be the punishment for anyone who has sex with a woman who is more than 14, but has not yet reached the age of sixteen, with consent. The penalty of imprisonment exceeding 10 years is the sentence for anyone who has sex with a woman who is over sixteen years but less than twenty one years, with consent.
This age of consent applies to women who marry without the permission of their fathers.
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.
The age of consent in Cambodia is 15 regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 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.
There is however, another law against Human Trafficking which prohibits prostitution involving those under 18 years of age. Note that foreigners have been harassed and entrapped with 16 and 17 year olds. If a foreigner provides financial support to the family it may be interpreted as prostitution even if the relationship is consensual. Due to the lack of rule of law in Cambodia, foreigners engaging in sexual conduct with teenagers between 15 and 18 are susceptible to extortion by police, even though they may not have committed a crime.
In China the age of consent for sexual activity is 14 years, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Chinese law defines statutory rape as having sex with a girl who is less than fourteen years of age. A five-year prison sentence and fine may result if the girl under 14 years of age was acting as a prostitute. On August 2015, the law concerning underage prostitutes was repealed. The Statutory rape law now applies to underage prostitution as well.
In Hong Kong the age of consent for sexual activity is 16 between a male and female and 16 between two males; there is, however, no law concerning the age of consent for two females engaging in sexual activity together.
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. Hence, the age of consent between two males have been effectively equalized with that between a male and a female, which is 16.
Prior to 2012 there was a presumption that a male minor under 14 could not consent to sexual intercourse under any circumstances. The law was changed after a 13-year-old boy attacked a 5-year-old girl at a Chai Wan hospital ward; the prosecution was unable to convict him of rape, instead only able to do so for indecent assault. In 2015 an 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy were arrested after they were found having sex with an 11-year-old girl. Under the new laws they have the possibility of having the maximum sentence of life in prison.
The general age of consent in Macau is 14, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Although people under the age of 18 years 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).
The age of consent in East Timor is 14 regardless of gender or sexual orientation, per Article 177. However, sex acts with an adolescent aged 14–15 years are illegal if an adult practices them with the adolescent by "taking advantage of the inexperience" of that adolescent. (Article 178).
Article 177. Sexual abuse of a minor 1. Any person who practices vaginal, anal or oral coitus with a minor aged less than 14 years is punishable with 5 to 20 years imprisonment. 2. Any person who practices any act of sexual relief with a minor aged less than 14 years is punishable with 5 to 15 years imprisonment.
Article 178. Sexual acts with an adolescent Any person who, being an adult and apart from situations provided in this section, practices any relevant sexual act with a minor aged between 14 and 16 years, taking advantage of the inexperience of the same, is punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment.
In 1892, the marital rape and subsequent death of a 10-year-old girl, Phulmoni Dasi, 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. On 3 April 2014 the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 came into effect which raised the legal permissible age for sexual consent from 16 to 18. Although, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 initially sought to lower the age to 16, it was set at 18 due to political pressure from conservative parties.
Section 375 reads: A man is said to commit "rape" if he (...) Sixthly — With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age. There is an exception clause under Section 375, which stipulates: "Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under ﬁfteen years of age, is not rape".
Legal Action on Legal Confusion
There is a standing legal confusion as to Marital Rape within prohibited Child Marriages in India. Marital rape per se is not a crime in India; but the position with regard to children is confusing. While the exception under the criminal law (section 375, Indian Penal Code, 1860) applicable to adults puts an exception and allows marital rape of a girl child between the age of 15–18 years by her husband; another new and progressive legislation Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 disallows any such sexual relationships and puts such crimes with marriages as an aggravated offense. A Public Interest Litigation filled by Independent Thought - www.ithought.in an organization working on child rights law, is being heard in the Supreme Court of India for declaring the exception allowing marital rape within prohibited child marriages as unconstitutional; Independent Thought vs. Union of India [W.P(civil) 382 of 2013].
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.
The Age of Consent in Indonesia is 17 years old. The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 15 or younger in Indonesia are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law.
Indonesia statutory rape law is violated when an individual has consensual sexual contact with boys under age 19, or girls under age 16. 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. The Indonesian Government gave South Sumatra the right to introduce Islamic sharia, albeit only to Muslim residents.
In Iran, sex outside marriage, regardless of age, is illegal. The minimum age of marriage in Iran is 18 for men and 15 for women. Ways around these regulations include temporary marriages (Nikah mut‘ah). With the permission of a court girls may marry at a younger age; during 2010 as many as 42,000 children aged between 10 and 14 were married, and 716 girls younger than 10 had wed.
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]."
However, the age of consent might change in the future to the age of nine for females and age of 15 for the males. However, some reporters believe that the draft suggests that there will not be an age of consent.
According to the Israeli Penal Code of 1977 the age of consent in Israel is 16 regardless of gender or sexual orientation, for any form of sexual relations involving penetration (unless the person above 16 is the one being penetrated - in that case the age of consent is 14). In all cases that don't involve penetration, the age of consent is 14 (for both heterosexual and homosexual activities ). 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 Japanese Penal Code sets a minimal age of consent of 13 regardless of gender or sexual orientation. However, the Children Welfare Act chapter 34 forbids any act of "fornication" (淫行) with children (here defined as anyone under 18 years of age) with prefectures and districts specifying further details in (largely similar) "obscenity ordinances" (淫行条例) like adding exemptions for sex in the context of a sincere romantic relationship (typically determined by parental approval).
The age of marriage was 16 for girls and 18 for boys with parental consent.
It has been stated that there are two territories of Japan that have their own local age of consent laws - Marcus Islands and Okinotori Islands - with an age of consent of 13. However both of these islands are small and unpopulated.
Article 505 of the Penal Code states, "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."
Homosexuality has been legal since 2014.
Malaysian Penal Code (Act 574), Section 375
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. As Maldivians follow the Islamic Shariah, girls below the age of 18 can get married with parental consent. Done otherwise, it would be a crime. Engaging in any type of sexual interaction is illegal before marriage.
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 1860 Indian Penal Code was also inherited in Myanmar, making the age of consent 14 there as well.
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.
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 sexual consent is the same as in Jordanian Article 306 of the Penal Code. Consensual sex is legal at the age of 16 years.
The minimum age for consensual sex is 12 years. United States' Country Reports on Human Rights Practices lists the age of consent of Philippines as 12. Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 12 is defined as rape, under Chapter 3, Article 266 of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
The statutory rape law criminalizes sex with minors under age 12 and sex with a child under age 18 involving force, threat, or intimidation. The maximum penalty for child rape is 40 years in prison plus a lifetime bar from political office. As of August the PNP reported 2,750 cases of child rape. The production, possession, and distribution of child pornography are illegal, and penalties range from one month to life in prison plus fines from 50,000 to five million pesos ($1,000 to $100,000), depending on the gravity of the offense.
In regard to children under the age of 18, as described earlier in the act as an individual under the age of 18, the law reads:
- 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.
Any kind of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal. According to the Family Act, the minimum age of marriage is 18 for boys and 16 for girls. The court may allow a marriage below the minimum age, but it requires the consent of the legal guardian as well as the consent of the two persons to be married.
The age of consent in Singapore is 16 for all opposite-sex activity and male and 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 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.
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The age of consent is 13. According to Section 305 of the Criminal Law of the Republic of Korea, a person who engages in a sexual intercourse with a 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 age of consent in Sri Lanka is 16. However girls belonging to Sri Lanka's Moor and Malay minorities representing approximately 10% of the national population are allowed to marry after 12 years of age and below the age of 12 with the approval of the religious leader, Moulavi and either father, brother, uncle, grandfather.
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.
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 18 regardless of gender or sexual orientation, as specified by article 317,318 and 319 of the Thai Criminal Code. The current legislation applies to all regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
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.
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.
The Penal Code and several news sources indicate that the age of consent in Vietnam is 16 regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Several other sources indicate that the age of consent is 18.
Article 115 No. 1 states that, if an adult has had sexual intercourse with children aged from full 13 to under 16, shall be sentenced to between one and five years of imprisonment. In 2009, this article was amended to remove capital punishment. Article 112 Those who rape children aged between full 13 years and under 16 years shall be sentenced to between seven and fifteen years of imprisonment.
Article 111.- Rape
4. Committing 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.
Article 112.- Rape against children
1. Those who rape children aged between full 13 years and under 16 years shall be sentenced to between seven and fifteen years of imprisonment.
Article 113.- Forcible sexual intercourse
1. Those who employ trickery to induce persons dependent on them or persons being in dire straits to have sexual intercourse with them against their will shall be sentenced to between six months and five years of imprisonment.
Article 114.- Forcible sexual intercourse with children
1. Those who have forcible sexual intercourse with children aged from full 13 years to under 16 years 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 ulama 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
- Sex education
- Comprehensive sex education
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