Age of consent reform

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Age of consent reform is an effort to change age of consent laws. Proposed reforms typically include raising, lowering, or abolishing the age of consent, applying (or not applying) close-in-age exemptions, changing penalties, or changing how cases are examined in court. A related issue is whether or not to apply ages of consent to homosexual relationships that are different from those applied to heterosexual relationships. Organized efforts have ranged from academic discussions to political petitions.

Initiatives to change the age of consent[edit]

There have been many initiatives to raise and lower the age of consent. Gratian, a canon lawyer in the 12th century, stated that females and males could not consent to betrothal before 7 years of age and consent could not take place for marriage (sexual intercourse) before 12 years of age for females and 14 years of age for males. At that time, the age of consent for marriage (sexual intercourse) was about 12 years old for females and about 14 years old for males, in most European countries. Today age of consent for sexual intercourse is usually set between 14 years old and 18 years old, in Western countries.

Western Europe[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

In 1275, the English government set the age of consent at 12 years old for females as part of a rape law and a 1576 law was created with more severe punishments for which the age of consent was set at 10 years old for females.[1][2] Jurist Sir Matthew Hale stated that both rape laws were valid at the same time.[1]

Age of consent for marriage (sexual intercourse) was set at 12 years old for maidens and 14 years old for youths, under English common law.[3] Age of majority was set at 21 years old, adolescent males and adolescent females needed parental consent to marry.

In 1875 the Offence Against the Persons Act raised it to 13 in Great Britain and Ireland. The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 raised it to 16.[4][5]In 1917, a bill raising the age of consent in Great Britain and Ireland from 16 to 17 was defeated by only one vote.[6] In Northern Ireland in 1950 the legislature of Northern Ireland passed a law called Children and Young Persons Act in 1950 that raised the age of consent from 16 to 17.[6][7]

In 1929, age of consent for marriage (sexual intercourse) was raised to 16 years old for both, females and males.[8] In 1970, the age of majority was lowered from 21 years old to 18 years old, making it legal for males and females 18 years old and older to marry without parental consent.

According to research conducted by the Centre for Family and Household Research at Oxford Brookes University in 1999, "an increasing proportion of young people are sexually active below the age of consent".[9] As of 1990, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) reported that a high proportion of young people engage in other forms of sexual activity prohibited by the law, including mutual masturbation and oral sex, beginning on average at the age of 14.[10]

France[edit]

In 1977 while a reform in the French penal code was under discussion in the parliament, a petition to decriminalize all consented relations between adults and minors below the age of fifteen was sent to Parliament but did not succeed in changing the law.[11] In 1978 the petition was discussed in a broadcast by radio France Culture in the program "Dialogues", with the transcript later published under the title Sexual Morality and the Law in a book by Michel Foucault. The participants, including Foucault, play-writer/actor Jean Danet and novelist/gay activist Guy Hocquenghem had all signed the petition.

Netherlands[edit]

Between 1990 and 2002, the Netherlands operated what was in effect an age of consent of 12, subject to qualifications.[12] The relevant law, passed in November 1990, permitted sexual intercourse for young people between 12 and 16, but allowed a challenge by parents based on erosion of parental authority or child exploitation, which would be heard by a Council for the Protection of Children.[13] In 1979, the Dutch Pacifist Socialist Party supported an unsuccessful petition to lower the age of consent to 12.[14]

Eastern Europe[edit]

Russia[edit]

Before 1922[edit]

Before 1830 the age of consent for marriage (sexual intercourse) was 15 years old for males and 13 years old for females [15](though 15 years old was preferred for females, so much so that it was written into the Law Code of 1649).[16] Teenage marriage was practiced for chastity . Both the female and the male teenager needed consent of their parents to marry because they were under 20 years old, the age of majority. In 1830, the age of consent for marriage (sexual intercourse) was raised to 18 years old for males and 16 years old for females [15] (though 18 years old was preferred for females). The average age of marriage (sexual intercourse) for females was around 19 years old.[17][18]

After 1991[edit]

Russia in 1998 lowered the age of consent from 16 to 14,[19] but in 2002 raised the age of consent from 14 back to 16.[20][21][22] Since then penalties have also generally increased. Vladimir Putin said that a party advocating lowering the age of consent cannot be legally registered (hence, be a legal party) in Russia.[citation needed]

North America[edit]

Canada[edit]

In June 2006, the Canadian government proposed a bill to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 (in 1890, it was raised from 12 to 14), while creating a near-age exemption for sex between 14- to 15-year-olds and partners less than 5 years older, and keeping an existing near-age clause for sex between 12 and 13 year olds and partners less than 2 years older. The initiative also maintains a temporary exception for already existing marriages of minors 14 and 15 years old to adults, but forbids new marriages like these in the future.[23] The law took effect May 1, 2008.

United States[edit]

18th century[edit]

The age of consent in question has to do with the law of rape and not the law of marriage (sexual intercourse) as sometimes misunderstood. Under English common law the age of consent, a part of the law of rape, was 10 or 12 years old and rape was defined as forceful sexual intercourse with a woman against her will. To convict a man of rape, both force and lack of consent had to be proved, except in the case of a girl who is under the age of consent. English common law existed in the British colonies of America and was adopted by Delaware and other states in 1776.

19th and 20th centuries[edit]

In Delaware, the age of consent was 10 years old until 1871 when it was lowered to 7 years old. Under the 1871 law, a man was given the death penalty for sex with a girl below the age of consent.[24]

In 1880, 37 states had an age of consent of 10 years, 10 states had an age of consent at 12 years, and Delaware had an age of consent of 7 years.[25][26]

In the late-19th century, a "social purity movement" composed of Christian feminist reform groups began advocating a raise in the age of consent to 16, with the goal of raising it ultimately to 18. By 1920, 26 states had an age of consent at 16, 21 states had an age of consent at 18, and one state (Georgia) had an age of consent at 14.[27]

Alaska was bought from the Russians and became the 49th state of U.S. in 1959. The age of consent was 16 years old. Hawaii became the 50th state of U.S. in 1959. The age of consent was 14 years old.

Two final states legislating their ages of consent into the 15–18 range were Georgia and Hawaii, from 14 to 16, raised in 1995 and 2001, respectively. One state (Colorado) had the age of consent at 15, having been lowered from 18 years old because age of majority was lowered from 21 years old to 18 in 1970.

Present[edit]

As of October, 16, 2020, the age of consent in each state in the United States was either 16 years of age, 17 years of age, or 18 years of age.[28]

Alabama[edit]

In 2012, Alabama State Representative Mac McCutcheon sponsored a bill to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18.[29] As of August 2018, the age of consent in Alabama remains 16.[30]

Hawaii[edit]

In 2001, the legislature in Hawaii voted to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.[31]

Georgia[edit]

In June 2005, a bill was proposed before the General Assembly of Georgia (USA) to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18.[32][33] The bill failed, however.

Georgia was the most resistant state to raising its age of consent in the early 1900s. Georgia's age of consent was 10 years old until 1918, at which time the age of consent was raised to 14.[34] After raising the age of consent in 1918, Georgia was the only state in the United States to have an age of consent lower than 16.[26] Georgia's age of consent remained at 14 until 1995, when a bill proposed by senator Steve Langford to make the age of consent 16 passed.[35]

In 2006, following the case of Genarlow Wilson (Wilson v. State), aggravated child molestation was reduced to a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in prison if the offender was under 19, the victim was either 14 or 15 years old, and the offender is no more than 48 months older than the victim. (Georgia penal code, 16-6-4). Previously aggravated child molestation (at any age) carried 5–20 years imprisonment regardless of the age difference between the victim and offender.

Kentucky[edit]

Under Kentucky law, a person who is sixteen years of age or older may consent to a sexual act with a person not more than ten years older than the minor, but otherwise below the age of eighteen is presumed to be incapable of consent to a sexual act.[36] However, where a person is in a position of authority over the minor such as a teacher, coach or relative, whatever the age difference, a minor below the age of eighteen is deemed incapable of consent.[37] [38][36]

Missouri[edit]

In 2008 a bill was proposed in the Missouri legislature to raise the age of consent from 17 to 18. It was sponsored by Representative Stanley Cox.[39]

South Carolina[edit]

In South Carolina in 2007 a bill was proposed before the legislature to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18.[40] It did not succeed.

Wisconsin[edit]

Prior to 1981 Wisconsin had an exception to the law that allowed adults who were guilty of sex with minors 15 or older to use as a defense that the victim understood the nature of the sexual act, but there was a rebuttable presumption in Wisconsin that minors under the age of 18 were not capable of informed consent to sex, but as stated, this could be argued against by the defendant in the court of law if the minor was 15 years of age or older. In 1981 the age of consent was lowered from 18 to 16 in Wisconsin, but at the same time it was made an automatic felony to have sex with anyone under 16, informed consent for a 15-year-old was no longer a defense an adult defendant could use in court. In 1983 the age of consent in Wisconsin was raised from 16 to 18, under the new law sex with a minor 16 or older carried the lesser penalty of a Class A Misdemeanor. A marital exemption was included in the law for an adult who was married to a minor 16 or older, but no close-in-age exception was.[41]

South America[edit]

Peru[edit]

The age of consent in Peru was increased from 14 to 18 in 2006 as elections approached, but in 2007, Peru's new Congress voted to return the age to 14 regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.[42] However, after strong public opposition, the law was raised back to 18 on June 27, 2007, by a vote of 74 to zero (22 abstentions).[43] It was returned to 14 in January 2013.[44]

Asia[edit]

India[edit]

In January 2004, a Division bench of the Kerala's High Court in Southern India suggested that the age of consent should be raised from 16 to 18 in that state. Justice R. Basant said he considered "illogic(al)" that a legal system in which an age of 18 is used for other purposes – like the Indian Majority Act, the Contract Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, the Child Marriage Restraint Act and the Representation of People Act – has a different approach in the case of sexual consent.[45] The age of consent in India was raised from 16 to 18 in 2012.[46]

In the West[edit]

Male homosexuality[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

The male homosexual age of consent in the United Kingdom was set at 21 in the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, lowered to 18 in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and then finally lowered equally to 16 in England and Wales and Scotland in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act of 2000.[47][48] In 1970, the age of majority was lowered from 21 years old to 18 years old.

United States[edit]

Philip Jenkins said in the mid-1970s, there was widespread sympathy among homosexual activist groups for lowering the age of consent for all sexual activities with many gay publications discussing lowering it for boys.[49] These tensions and antagonisms continued among activist circles until the 1980s; however, since the 1970s, gay liberationist groups promoting frontline advocacy against the age of consent were falling into decline.[50] In 1971, the age of majority was lowered from 21 years old to 18 years old, except in Mississippi (21), Alabama (19), and Nebraska (19).

Close-in-age exemptions[edit]

In the United States, many states have adopted close-in-age exemptions. These laws, known as "Romeo and Juliet laws"[51] provide that a person can legally have consensual sex with a minor provided that he or she is not more than a given number of years older, generally four years or less.[52][53] Some Romeo and Juliet laws (such as the law in Michigan[54] do not make it legal for a person below the age of consent to have sex with a slightly older person, but may exempt the older partner from sex offender registration.

Romeo and Juliet laws were passed in 2007 in Connecticut and Indiana.[53] In Indiana, a change in the law decriminalizes consensual sex between adolescents if they are found by a court to be in a "dating relationship" with an age difference of four years or less[53] and other states have adopted other reforms. Michigan passed a Romeo and Juliet Law in 2011.[55]

These reforms have been controversial. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry vetoed Romeo and Juliet laws that had been passed by the legislature in 2009,[56] but signed one in 2011 to go into effect in September of that year.[57] A 2011 Romeo and Juliet bill failed to pass in the Illinois legislature.[58] In the State v. Limon case, Kansas's Romeo and Juliet law was found to be unconstitutional because it excluded same-sex sexual conduct.

Some countries other than the United States also have Romeo and Juliet laws. Ireland's 2006 law has been contested because it treats girls differently from boys.[59][60]

Pedophile advocacy[edit]

Some pedophiles have called to abolish the age of consent to allow adults to have sex freely with prepubescent children, arguing they can consent.[61][62] Groups advocating child sexual abuse and the abolishment of age of consent laws include NAMBLA in the United States and Vereniging Martijn in the Netherlands.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Robertson, Stephen. "Age of Consent Laws". Children & Youth in History. Center for History and New Media. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  2. ^ "Age of Consent – Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society". Faqs.org. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  3. ^ Dahl, Gordon B. (2010). "Early Teen Marriage and Future Poverty". Demography. 47 (3): 689–718. doi:10.1353/dem.0.0120. PMC 3000061. PMID 20879684.
  4. ^ Mary E. Odem (1995). Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920 (Gender and American Culture). Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-8078-4528-8. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  5. ^ David Swarbrick. "Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 (-)". swarb.co.uk. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Age of consent: A response to the consultation on the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 (PDF). Northern Ireland, United Kingdom: The Christian Institute. ISBN 978-1-901086-39-3. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  7. ^ "Draft Sexual Offenses (Northern Ireland) Order 2008". parliament.uk. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "The law of marriage". www.parliament.uk.
  9. ^ Wertheimer, A. and Macrae, S. (1999, p.19). Family and Household Change in Britain: A Summary of Findings from Projects in the Economic and Social Research Council Population and Household Change Programme (Oxford: Centre for Family and Household Research, Oxford Brookes University). Cited by Waites, Matthew (2005, p.214).
  10. ^ Johnson, A.M.; Wadsworth, J.; Wellings, K.; and Field, J. with Bradshaw, S. (1994) – Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications). Cited by Waites, Matthew (2005, p.214).
  11. ^ Foucault, Michel (1988). Krizman, Lawrence D. (ed.). Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984. New York / London: Routledge. pp. 272–273. ISBN 978-0-415-90082-9.
  12. ^ Elizabeth Bernstein, Laurie Schaffner. Regulating Sex: The politics of Intimacy and Identity. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  13. ^ Evans, David T. (1993). Sexual Citizenship: The Material Construction of Sexualities. London: Routledge. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-415-05799-8. (link is to the 2013 edition)
  14. ^ Brongersma, Edward (1988). "Schutzalter 12 Jahre? – Sex mit Kindern in der niederländischen Gesetzgebung" [Age of Consent 12 years? Dutch legislation on sex with children]. In Leopardi, Angelo (ed.). Der pädosexuelle Komplex [On the topic of pedosexuality] (in German). Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Foerster Verlag. p. 214. ISBN 978-3-922257-66-0.
  15. ^ a b Troitskaia, Irina. "Peasant Marriage in 19th century Russia".
  16. ^ Pushkareva, Natalia (1997). Women in Russian History: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Century. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. p. 156.
  17. ^ Avdeev, Blum, Troitskaia, Juby, "Peasant Marriage", 733.
  18. ^ Engel, "Peasant Pre-Marital Relations", 698–99.
  19. ^ "25 июня 1998 года N 92-ФЗ".
  20. ^ "8 декабря 2003 года N 162-ФЗ".
  21. ^ Peter Graff (June 28–29, 2002). "Russia – Age of Consent". Reuters (via Age of Consent). Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  22. ^ "Russia". Age of Consent. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  23. ^ "Age of Consent FAQ". CTV.ca. June 23, 2006. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  24. ^ Lindenmuth, Janet. "The age of consent and rape reform in Delaware". Widener Law Delaware Library. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  25. ^ "Purity Congress Meets". The New York Times. Baltimore. October 15, 1895.
  26. ^ a b "Age of Consent Laws [Table]". Children & Youth in History. Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2020. Compiled from a combination of historical and contemporary sources, annotated by Stephen Robertson
  27. ^ "The Campaign to Raise the Age of Consent 1885–1914". Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600–2000. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  28. ^ "Age of Consent across the United States". AgeOfConsent.net. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  29. ^ "Lawmaker Pushes Bill To Raise Age Of Consent In Alabama". May 1, 2012.
  30. ^ "State-by-State Marriage "Age of Consent" Laws". FindLaw.com. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  31. ^ Far East and Australasia 2003 – Eur. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  32. ^ "hb722.html". Legis.state.ga.us. July 1, 2005. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  33. ^ "Georgia General Assembly – HB 722". Legis.ga.gov. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  34. ^ Blackwell, Alice Stone (January 20, 2019). "The Woman Citizen". Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission – via Google Books.
  35. ^ "Star-News - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  36. ^ a b "KRS Sec. 510.020 Lack of consent". Kentucky State Legislature. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  37. ^ "KRS Sec. 510.110 (1)(d), Sexual abuse in the first degree". Kentucky State Legislature. Retrieved March 23, 2020., "KRS Sec. 532.045 Persons prohibited from probation or postincarceration supervision". Kentucky State Legislature. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  38. ^ "Consent LawsKentucky". RAINN. March 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  39. ^ "Missouri House bill would raise age of consent to 18". Joplin Globe.
  40. ^ Taylor, Meredith. "South Carolina lawmakers propose raising age of consent". www.wrdw.com.
  41. ^ Owzsewski, DJ Statutory Rape in Wisconsin 2006
  42. ^ "Peru Lowers Age Of Consent To 14". CBS News. June 22, 2007. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  43. ^ "Pleno Reconsidero Exoneracion de Sedunda Votacion a Proyecto Sobre Libertad Sexual" [House Reconsidered and Excluded Second Vote for Project on Sexual Freedom] (in Spanish). El Heraldo. June 27, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  44. ^ "Demanda de inconstitucionalidad interpuesta por diez mil seiscientos nueve ciudadanos contra el artículo 1° de la Ley N° 28704 que modifica el artículo 173°, inciso 3° del Código Penal, sobre delito de violación sexual contra víctima entre 14 y 18 años de edad" (PDF) (in Spanish). January 7, 2013.
  45. ^ "Kerala, Raise age-limit for giving consent for sexual intercourse to 18 – South Asia". Asian Sex Gazette. January 21, 2004. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  46. ^ "Parliament clears bill against child abuse". The Times Of India. May 23, 2012.
  47. ^ "Gay consent at 16 becomes law". BBC News. November 20, 2000. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  48. ^ the age of consent is 17 in Northern Ireland
  49. ^ University, Philip Jenkins Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies Pennsylvania State (March 15, 2006). Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 120. ISBN 9780198039723.
  50. ^ Tom Warner (2002). Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada. University of Toronto Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8020-8460-6.
  51. ^ Larson, Aaron (February 21, 2016). "What Is a Romeo and Juliet Law". ExpertLaw. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  52. ^ Volokh, Eugene (May 1, 2015). "Statutory rape laws and ages of consent in the U.S." Washington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  53. ^ a b c John Gramlich (July 16, 2007). "New laws take 'Romeo' into account". Stateline.org. Archived from the original on October 24, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  54. ^ "MCL 28.728c. Petition to discontinue registration". Michigan Legislature. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  55. ^ McLaren, Noël (April 20, 2011). "Understanding the Romeo & Juliet Law". Upper Michigan's Source. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  56. ^ Grissom, Brandi (June 29, 2009). "Gov. Rick Perry vetoes bill lifting sex offenders 21, younger from registry". Austin Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  57. ^ Andrea Lucia (June 4, 2011). "'Romeo And Juliet' Law Changes Statutory Rape Definition". CBS DFW. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  58. ^ Hannah Hess (March 3, 2011). ""Romeo and Juliet" law fails in Illinois House". STL Today. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  59. ^ "'Romeo and Juliet' laws contested". Irish Times. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  60. ^ "Court urged to change 'Romeo and Juliet' laws". RTÉ News. April 14, 2011. Archived from the original on April 7, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  61. ^ Jenkins, Philip (2006). Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America. Oxford University Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-19-517866-1.
  62. ^ Spiegel, Josef (2003). Sexual Abuse of Males: The Sam Model of Theory and Practice. Routledge. pp. 5, p9. ISBN 978-1-56032-403-4.