Age of Consent by Country (2022): Averages, Oddities & Laws

We took a look and collected all data on the latest trends by country, various types of laws, and the weirdest ways the age of consent by country. Read on:

age of consent by country

Consent is the cornerstone of all sexual encounters. The agreement of two or more people to engage in sexual activity is what allows it to be a euphoric and pleasurable experience.

There are, however, many situations in which one person cannot consent by default. One of the most obvious examples is when underage children are involved. 

Lacking a certain level of life and sexual experience – a level that comes with age – changes the dynamic of a sexual encounter and prevents the younger part from providing legitimate consent. 

Around the world, different cultures approach this dynamic in different ways. We’ll analyze the trends by country, various types of laws, and the weirdest ways the age of consent is handled worldwide. 

These data points highlight some of the more interesting age of consent laws:

  • The average age of consent worldwide is 16 years old. 
  • Until 1994, the age of consent for homosexual sex in the U.K. was 21, while the heterosexual age of consent was 16. 
  • Yemen technically has no age of consent, but girls of any age are allowed to marry. 
  • As of 2022, 39 countries or territories (17% overall) do not have equal age of consent laws for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
  • Age of consent laws help underage victims of sexual assault in court because they do not have to prove that the interaction was nonconsensual. 

What Is an Age of Consent?

Until a child reaches an adult level of maturity, physical development, and sexual autonomy, they are not legally capable of consenting to sexual activity with a much-older adult. 

This is because the adult has a higher degree of physical and positional power, to the extent that any child would not necessarily feel safe or comfortable saying no. 

Here’s the legal data on the age of consent laws: 

  • The age when a person is considered legally capable of consenting to sexual acts is called the age of consent. (Wikipedia, 2022a)1
    • Any adult engaging in sexual activity with a person younger than the age of consent cannot legally claim that the activity was consensual. 
    • Adults who do so can be charged with child sexual abuse or statutory rape. 
  • Age of consent laws are typically justified as protecting young people from sexual exploitation by adults. (William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, 2003)2
  • Underage victims of sexual assault have greater difficulty proving their charges in places without age of consent laws. (William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, 2003)2
    • Sexual assault laws in most states require proof of both force and non-consent, which often gives no recourse to victim

Age of Consent by Country

Each nation approaches the age of consent differently. Some require marriage, others have exceptions based on age, and others make no exceptions whatsoever. 

Here are the numbers on ages of consent by country:

  • The average global age of consent is 16 years old and is the legal age of consent in 92 states and countries. (Wikipedia, 2022b)3
  • Depending on their country of origin, age of consent laws are defined differently in the following ways: (Wikipedia, 2022b)3
    • Restricted by age difference – the younger partner can legally consent to sexual activity as long as the age difference between them and the older partner does not exceed a specific amount. 
    • Restricted by authority – the younger partner can legally consent to sexual activity so long as the older partner is not in a position of authority or trust and is not abusing the younger partner’s inexperience. 
    • Unrestricted – the age at which one can legally consent to sex with anyone else or is legally allowed to marry. 
  • The age of consent for heterosexual sex, by country, is as follows. The age of consent for males is listed first; the age of consent for females follows on the right. An “a” denotes consent restricted by age difference, “b” by authority, and “c” is unrestricted: (Wikipedia, 2022b)3
    • Some of the lower values in countries marked with an “a” refer to the lowest age that someone can consent to sex with a peer or another individual who is close in age – not necessarily an adult. 
  • Africa
    • Algeriaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Angolaᵃ — 14 — 16
    • Beninᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Botswanaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Burkina Fasoᵃ — 15 — 18
    • Burundiᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Cameroonᵃ — 16 — 16
    • Cape Verdeᵃ — 14 — 14
    • Central African Republicᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Chadᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Comorosᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Congoᶜ — 18 — 18
    • The Democratic Republic of the Congoᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Djiboutiᵃ — 15 — 15
    • Egyptᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Equatorial Guineaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Eritreaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Eswatiniᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Ethiopiaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Gabonᵃ — 15 — 15
    • Gambiaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Ghanaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Guineaᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Guinea-Bissauᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Ivory Coastᵃ — 15 — 15
    • Kenyaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Lesothoᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Liberiaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Madagascarᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Malawiᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Maliᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Mauritaniaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Mauritiusᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Mozambiqueᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Namibiaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Nigerᶜ — 13 — 13
    • Nigeriaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Rwandaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republicᶜ — 13 — 13
    • São Tomé and Príncipe — 14 — 14
    • Senegalᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Seychellesᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Sierra Leoneᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Somaliaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • South Africaᵃ — 12 — 12
    • South Sudanᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Tanzaniaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Tunisiaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Ugandaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Zambiaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Zimbabweᶜ — 16 — 16

  • Asia
    • Armeniaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Azerbaijanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Bahrainᶜ — 21 — 21
    • Bangladeshᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Bhutanᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Cambodiaᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Chinaᶜ — 14 — 18
    • East Timorᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Georgiaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Hong Kongᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Indiaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Indonesiaᵃ — 12 — 12
    • Iraqᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Israelᵃ — 14 — 14
    • Japanᵇ — 13 — 13
    • Jordanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Kazakhstanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Kyrgyzstanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Laosᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Lebanonᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Macauᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Malaysiaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Mongoliaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Myanmarᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Nepalᶜ — 16 — 16
    • North Koreaᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Philippinesᵃ — 16 — 16
    • Singaporeᵇ — 16 — 16
    • South Koreaᵃ — 13 — 13
    • Sri Lankaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Syriaᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Taiwanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Tajikistanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Thailandᵃ — 15 — 15
    • Turkmenistanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • United Arab Emiratesᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Uzbekistanᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Vietnamᶜ — 16 — 16
    • West Bankᶜ — 16 — 16

  • Europe
    • Albaniaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Andorraᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Austriaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Belarusᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Belgiumᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Bosnia and Herzegovinaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Bulgariaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Croatiaᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Cyprusᵇ — 17 — 17
    • Czech Republicᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Denmarkᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Estoniaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Finlandᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Franceᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Germanyᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Greeceᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Hungaryᵃ — 12 — 12
    • Icelandᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Irelandᶜ — 17 — 17
    • Italyᵃ — 13 — 13
    • Kosovoᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Latviaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Liechtensteinᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Lithuaniaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Luxembourgᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Maltaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Moldovaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Monacoᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Montenegroᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Netherlandsᵇ — 16 — 16
    • North Macedoniaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Norwayᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Polandᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Portugalᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Romaniaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Russiaᵃ — 16 — 16
    • San Marinoᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Serbiaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Slovakiaᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Sloveniaᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Spainᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Swedenᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Switzerlandᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Turkeyᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Ukraineᵇ — 16 — 16
    • United Kingdomᵇ — 16 — 16

  • North America
    • Antigua and Barbudaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Arubaᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Bahamasᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Barbadosᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Belizeᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Bermudaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Canadaᵃ — 12 — 12
    • Costa Ricaᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Cubaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Curaçaoᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Dominicaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Dominican Republicᶜ — 18 — 18
    • El Salvadorᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Guatemalaᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Haitiᶜ — 18 — 18
    • Hondurasᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Jamaicaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Nicaraguaᵇ — 16 — 16
    • Panamaᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Puerto Ricoᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Saint Luciaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Trinidad and Tobagoᵇ — 12 — 12

  • Oceania
    • Fijiᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Kiribatiᶜ — 15 — 18
    • New Zealandᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Papua New Guineaᵃ — 12 — 14
    • Samoaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Togoᶜ — 15 — 15
    • Tuvaluᵇ — 15 — 15
    • Vanuatuᵇ — 15 — 15

  • South America
    • Argentinaᵇ — 13 — 13
    • Boliviaᵃ — 14 — 14
    • Brazilᵃ — 12 — 12
    • Chileᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Colombiaᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Ecuadorᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Guyanaᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Paraguayᶜ — 14 — 14
    • Peruᵇ — 14 — 14
    • Surinameᶜ — 16 — 16
    • Uruguayᵃ — 12 — 12
    • Venezuelaᶜ — 16 — 16 

Highest and Lowest Ages of Consent Worldwide

Age of consent varies from as low as 12 to as high as 21 years old – often with specific exemptions or stipulations. 

Here are some of the most extreme examples of age of consent laws:

  • The following countries have age of consent laws of 12 years old. An “a” denotes consent restricted by age difference, “b” by authority, and “c” is unrestricted: (Wikipedia, 2022b)3
    • Brazil – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Hungary – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Indonesia – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Papua New Guinea – (For males only)ᵃ
    • South Africa – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Sudan – (For females only)ᶜ
    • Trinidad and Tobago – (Both males and females)ᵇ
    • Uruguay – (Both males and females)ᵃ

  • While not all of Mexico has an age of consent of 12, the following states in Mexico do. An “a” denotes consent restricted by age difference, “b” by authority, and “c” is unrestricted: (Wikipedia, 2022b)3
    • Aguascalientes – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Baja California Sur – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Campeche – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Chiapas – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Coahuila – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Mexican Federal District – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Guanajuato – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Guerrero – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Hidalgo – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Jalisco – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Michoacán – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Morelos – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Oaxaca – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Nayarit – (For females only)ᵇ
    • Puebla – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Querétaro – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Quintana Roo – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • San Luis Potosí – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Sinaloa – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Sonora – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Tabasco – (Both males and females)ᵃ
    • Tamaulipas – (Both males and females)ᵃ
  • The only country in the world with an age of consent of 21 is Bahrain for women who want to marry without their father’s consent. This is the world’s highest age of consent, despite its unusual stipulation. (Wikipedia, 2022b)3

Ages of Consent by State in the U.S. and Australia

The U.S. and Australia have age of consent laws that vary from state to state. 

Here’s a breakdown of each state’s laws for both countries:

  • Over half of U.S. states have a close-in-age exemption aimed at decriminalizing sex between two individuals who are both underage. Ages of consent in the U.S. vary by state as follows: (Age of Consent, 2022)4
    • Alabama – 16 – Exemption for those close-in-age
    • Alaska – 16 – Exemption
    • Arizona – 18 – Exemption
    • Arkansas – 16 – Exemption
    • California – 18 – No exemption
    • Colorado – 17 –   Exemption
    • Connecticut – 16 – Exemption
    • Delaware – 18 –   Exemption
    • Washington D.C. – 16 –  Exemption
    • Florida – 18 –      Exemption
    • Georgia – 16 –    No exemption
    • Hawaii – 16 –      Exemption
    • Idaho – 18 –       No exemption
    • Illinois – 17 –     No exemption
    • Indiana – 16 –    Exemption
    • Iowa – 16 –        Exemption
    • Kansas – 16 –   No exemption
    • Kentucky – 16 –  No exemption
    • Louisiana – 17 –  No exemption
    • Maine – 16 –      Exemption
    • Maryland – 16 –  No exemption
    • Massachusetts – 16 –  No exemption
    • Michigan – 16 –  No exemption
    • Minnesota – 16 –  No exemption
    • Mississippi – 16 –   Exemption
    • Missouri – 17 –  No exemption
    • Montana – 16 –  No exemption
    • Nebraska – 16 –  No exemption
    • Nevada – 16 –  No exemption
    • New Hampshire – 16 –   Exemption
    • New Jersey – 16 –   Exemption
    • New Mexico – 17 –   Exemption
    • New York – 17 –  No exemption
    • North Carolina – 16 –   Exemption
    • North Dakota – 18 –  No exemption
    • Ohio – 16 –   Exemption
    • Oklahoma – 16 –   Exemption
    • Oregon – 18 –  No exemption
    • Pennsylvania – 16 –   Exemption
    • Rhode Island – 16 –   Exemption
    • South Carolina – 16 –  No exemption
    • South Dakota – 16 –  No exemption
    • Tennessee – 18 –   Exemption
    • Texas – 17 –  No exemption
    • Utah – 18 –   Exemption
    • Vermont – 16 –   Exemption
    • Virginia – 18 –   Exemption
    • Washington – 16 –  No exemption
    • West Virginia – 16 –  No exemption
    • Wisconsin – 18 –  No exemption
    • Wyoming – 17 –  No exemption

  • Australian Capital Territory — 16 — 16
    • New South Wales — 16 — 16
    • Northern Territory — 16 — 16
    • Queensland — 16 — 16
    • South Australia — 17 — 17
    • Tasmania — 17 — 17
    • Victoria — 16 — 16
    • Western Australia — 16 — 16 

Countries Where Sex Outside of Marriage Is Illegal

In some countries, it’s illegal to have sex outside of marriage altogether. In these cases, the age of consent is replaced by a legal age at which one can be married. 

Here’s the data for those countries:

  • The following countries have ages when it is legal to marry, and sex outside marriage is illegal. The age of marriage for males is listed first, and the age of marriage for females follows to the right: (Wikipedia, 2022b)3
    • Africa:
      • Libya — 18 — 16
      • Morocco — 18 — 18
      • Sudan — 13 — 12
    • Asia:
      • Afghanistan — 18 — 16
      • Brunei — 16 — 16
      • Gaza Strip — 16 — 15
      • Iran — 18 — 15
      • Kuwait — 17 — 15
      • Maldives — 18 — 18
      • Oman — 18 — 18
      • Pakistan — 18 — 18
      • Qatar — 18 — 16
      • Saudi Arabia — 18 — 15
      • Yemen — No age of consent for marriage.
    • Europe:
      • Vatican City — 16 — 14
  • Yemeni law permits girls of any age to marry but technically forbids sexual relations until an indefinite age when they are “suitable for sexual intercourse.” (Yemen Times, 2008)5

Age of Consent Equality for Same-Sex Relationships

For at least several decades, many countries have had persecution laws that criminalize homosexual sex. Age of consent laws are a prominent example of this. A higher age of consent for homosexual sex creates a legal pretext for some nations to criminalize homosexuality.

For example, a country with a heterosexual age of consent of 16, but a homosexual age of consent of 21, effectively bans all homosexuals from having sex until they are at least 21 years old. 

No one wants to deal with government-mandated virginity until they turn 21. 

Here’s a breakdown of how this inequality is shrinking throughout the world and where it still persists: 

  • The age of consent for heterosexuals in the U.K. has been 16 for at least half a century; for homosexuals, the age of consent was 21 until 1994. (Stonewall, n.d.)6
    • In 1994 it was lowered to 18, and in 2001 it was finally lowered to 16 – the same age of consent as heterosexuals. 
    • The unequal law made it easy to prosecute gay men and women just for having sex. Unfortunately, these laws still exist in many places around the world.  

  • Over time, more countries have adopted equal age of consent laws for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Here are numbers from 1962 to the present: (Equaldex, 2022)7
    • 1962-1968 — 89 countries
    • 1969-1973 — 90 countries
    • 1974 — 91 countries
    • 1975 — 92 countries
    • 1976 — 96 countries
    • 1977 — 98 countries
    • 1978 — 100 countries
    • 1979-1981 — 102 countries
    • 1982-1983 — 105 countries
    • 1984 — 107 countries
    • 1985-1987 — 108 countries
    • 1988-1989 — 109 countries
    • 1990-1991 — 111 countries
    • 1992 — 114 countries
    • 1993-1994 — 116 countries
    • 1995 — 117 countries
    • 1996 — 120 countries
    • 1997 — 124 countries
    • 1998 — 128 countries
    • 1999 — 131 countries
    • 2000 — 134 countries
    • 2001 — 141 countries
    • 2002-2003 — 147 countries
    • 2004 — 150 countries
    • 2005 — 152 countries
    • 2006 — 157 countries
    • 2007 — 164 countries
    • 2008 — 165 countries
    • 2009 — 166 countries
    • 2010-2011 — 168 countries
    • 2012 — 170 countries
    • 2013 — 171 countries
    • 2014 — 172 countries
    • 2015 — 175 countries
    • 2016-2017 — 178 countries
    • 2018-2022 — 171 countries

  • As of 2022, there are 171 countries (74% overall) with equal age of consent laws for heterosexuals and homosexuals. (Equaldex, 2022)7
  • Here is a breakdown, by region and nation, of countries with equal age of consent laws for heterosexual and homosexual relationships. (Equaldex, 2022)7
  • Asia (29 regions) — 63% Legal Equality
    • Bahrain
    • Bhutan
    • Cambodia
    • China
    • Hong Kong
    • India
    • Israel
    • Japan
    • Jordan
    • Kazakhstan
    • Kuwait
    • Kyrgyzstan
    • Laos
    • Lebanon
    • Macau
    • Maldives
    • Mongolia
    • Myanmar
    • Nepal
    • Philippines
    • Qatar
    • South Korea
    • Sri Lanka
    • Taiwan
    • Tajikistan
    • Thailand
    • Timor-Leste
    • Uzbekistan
    • Vietnam

  • Europe (52 regions) — 100% Legal Equality
    • Albania
    • Andorra
    • Armenia
    • Austria
    • Azerbaijan
    • Belarus
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Bulgaria
    • Croatia
    • Cyprus
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Faroe Islands
    • Finland
    • France
    • Georgia
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Ireland
    • Isle of Man
    • Italy
    • Kosovo
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • Moldova
    • Monaco
    • Montenegro
    • Netherlands
    • North Macedonia
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Russia
    • San Marino
    • Serbia
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Turkey
    • Ukraine
    • United Kingdom
    • Vatican City

  • North America (25 regions) — 69% Legal Equality
    • Anguilla
    • Aruba
    • Belize
    • The British Virgin Islands
    • Canada
    • Costa Rica
    • Cuba
    • Curaçao
    • Dominica
    • Dominican Republic
    • El Salvador
    • Greenland
    • Grenada
    • Guadeloupe
    • Guatemala
    • Haiti
    • Honduras
    • Jamaica
    • Martinique
    • Mexico
    • Nicaragua
    • Panama
    • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
    • Sint Maarten
    • Turks and Caicos Islands

  • Africa (37 regions) — 63% Legal Equality
    • Angola
    • Botswana
    • British Indian Ocean Territory
    • Burkina Faso
    • Burundi
    • Cameroon
    • Cape Verde
    • Central African Republic
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Djibouti
    • Equatorial Guinea
    • Eswatini
    • Gabon
    • Ghana
    • Guinea
    • Guinea-Bissau
    • Lesotho
    • Liberia
    • Malawi
    • Mali
    • Mauritius
    • Mayotte
    • Mozambique
    • Namibia
    • Niger
    • Réunion
    • Rwanda
    • Saint Helena
    • Sao Tome and Principe
    • Senegal
    • Seychelles
    • Sierra Leone
    • South Africa
    • South Sudan
    • Togo
    • Western Sahara
    • Zimbabwe

  • Oceania (20 regions) — 83% Legal Equality
    • Australia
    • Christmas Island
    • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    • Cook Islands
    • Federated States of Micronesia
    • Fiji
    • French Polynesia
    • Marshall Islands
    • Nauru
    • New Caledonia
    • New Zealand
    • Niue
    • Norfolk Island
    • Palau
    • Pitcairn Islands
    • Samoa
    • Tokelau
    • Tonga
    • Vanuatu
    • Wallis and Futuna

  • South America (11 regions) — 79% Legal Equality
    • Argentina
    • Bolivia
    • Brazil
    • Colombia
    • Ecuador
    • Falkland Islands
    • French Guiana
    • Guyana
    • Peru
    • Uruguay
    • Venezuela

  • As of 2022, 39 countries or territories (17% overall) do not have equal age of consent laws for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and 22 countries or regions (9%) with no laws on the subject or no available data. (Equaldex, 2022)7
  • The following nations or regions have age of consent laws that are explicitly unequal between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. (Equaldex, 2022)7
  • Asia (11 regions) — 24% Inequality
    • Afghanistan
    • Bangladesh
    • Brunei
    • Iran
    • Malaysia
    • Pakistan
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Singapore
    • Syria
    • Turkmenistan
    • Yemen

  • North America (9 regions) — 25% Inequality
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Bermuda
    • Cayman Islands
    • Montserrat
    • Saint Kitts and Nevis
    • Saint Lucia
    • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Africa (16 regions) — 27% Inequality
    • Benin
    • Chad
    • Comoros
    • Côte d’Ivoire
    • Egypt
    • Eritrea
    • Ethiopia
    • Libya
    • Madagascar
    • Mauritania
    • Morocco
    • Nigeria
    • Republic of the Congo
    • Somalia
    • Tunisia
    • Zambia

  • Oceania (3 regions) — 13% Inequality
    • Kiribati
    • Papua New Guinea
    • Tuvalu

  • South America (3 regions) — 21% Inequality
    • Chile
    • Paraguay
    • Suriname

Conclusion

Age of consent laws exist to protect children from predatory sexual behavior from adults. They come in various forms, and none of them are perfect. However, in modern forms, they protect more people than they could possibly harm. 

Some countries have disturbingly low ages of consent, but many have been steadily increasing as culture and society progress. Other places dictate marriage rather than sex, which can subject young girls to child marriage and sexual abuse. 

In the past few decades, inequality in age of consent laws between homosexuals and heterosexuals has shrunk significantly. While nearly 1 in 5 countries still attempts to persecute homosexuals with higher ages of consent, the global trend has been moving toward equality. 

In essence, laws are (ideally) our best attempts to convert our moral consciences into words and codes. Teens should be allowed to develop their sexuality with a healthy degree of autonomy – and without the predatory behavior of adults. 

Footnotes

  1. Wikipedia, 2022a. An online encyclopedia article covering the definition, history, and international breakdown of age of consent.
  2. William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, 2003. A study on the conflicting implementations of consent laws in the U.S. and how they regulate teenage sexuality.
  3. Wikipedia, 2022b. An online encyclopedia breakdown of age of consent laws in countries throughout the world.
  4. Age of Consent, 2022. An infographic breakdown of the ages of consent by U.S. state and whether or not they contain a close-in-age exemption.
  5. Yemen Times, 2008. An article describing the practice of child marriage in Yemen and how it translates to the country’s laws.
  6. Stonewall, n.d. A short article on the history of the age of consent inequality between homosexuals and heterosexuals in the U.K.
  7. Equaldex, 2022. An infographic breakdown of how and when age of consent laws were equalized between heterosexual and homosexual relations.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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