Legal Age of Consent in Different Countries

The age at which a person is considered legally capable of consenting to sexual activity varies widely around the world – and even in Europe. Japan has several overlapping laws that deal with the age of consent. As a result, the age of consent varies considerably across the country. The three main laws that define the age of consent in Japan are the Japanese Penal Code, the Obscene Minors Laws, and the Civil Code. Each sets different guidelines for determining when sexual activity is acceptable. To add to the confusion, some of these guidelines apply to all of Japan, while others apply only to a subset of Japan`s 47 administrative regions or prefectures. The age of consent in Europe, Asia or another continent varies by country and territory. The age of consent is between 12 and 21 years, with most countries between 14 and 16 years. Nearly a dozen countries, including Iran, Qatar, Yemen and Afghanistan, completely ban premarital sex but have no age restrictions on marital sex. Several other countries have an age of consent above 16, including Cyprus (17), Ireland (17), Turkey (18), Iraq (18), Vietnam (18) and Bahrain (21). In addition, some countries provide for age-related exceptions, others do not.

Under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013, the age of consent in India is 18. People under the age of 17 cannot legally consent to sexual activity, which could lead to prosecution for rape. In 1892, the age of consent was 10, but it gradually increased over time to 18. The age of consent should be lowered to 16, as many police-reported cases of sexual assault involve people between the ages of 16 and 18 who engage in consensual sex but are reported by disapproving parents. The age of consent in Germany is 14. Prosecution for legal rape (or local equivalent) can result in a prison sentence of 6 months to 10 years. The age of consent in Germany is 14 if both partners are under 18. Sexual acts with a person under the age of 18 are punishable if the adult is an authority figure over the minor in education, education, care or employment. In Cyprus, Ireland, Mexico and Nauru, you cannot legally consent to sex until you are 17.

Another 40 countries, including Kenya, Iraq, Nicaragua, Vatican City, Vietnam, Argentina, Rwanda, India and Guatemala, prohibit sexual activities with partners under the age of 18. United States: The age of consent is between 16 and 18 years. In some states, there is an age-related exemption commonly known as „Romeo and Juliet laws” to decriminalize consensual sex between two people who have not reached the age of consent, according to the independent website The legal age of consent varies from country to country in the world between 11 and 21 years old. In some countries, there is no legal age for consent, but all sexual relations are prohibited outside of marriage. Select any country for more information on local laws. In almost all Australian territories, including the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, the age of consent in Australia is 16. However, two Australian territories, Tasmania and South Australia, have raised the age of consent to 17. As in many countries, the age of consent increases to 18 if the oldest participant is in a position of care or authority (teacher, guardian, clergy, etc.) over the minor participant. Many jurisdictions have age-related exceptions that also vary by region.

The highest age of consent in the world in Bahrain is 21. The second highest age of consent in South Korea is 20, while most other countries have an age of consent between 16 and 18. There is no age of consent in Pakistan. All sexual activity in Pakistan is illegal until marriage. The minimum age of marriage is 18 for men and 16 for women. In some cases, women are allowed to marry at the age of 14. Once two people are married, their age is no longer an issue and sex is legal. Consensual same-sex relations are criminalized in Pakistan. About half of all U.S. states allow children under the age of consent to marry with special permission, either from parents or a court. Children as young as ten were among the nearly 250,000 U.S. minors who married between 2000 and 2010, The Guardian reports.

Several States are in the process of introducing legislation to fill these gaps. The legal age at which sexual activity can be consented to is between 11 and 21 in various countries around the world. However, some countries do not have a specific age of consent because they prohibit sexual relations outside of marriage. Nigeria, an African country, has the lowest age of consent in the world, while Bahrain, an Asian country, has the highest legal age of consent. Thirty-one states have set the age of consent at 16, eight at 17 and eleven at 18. Twenty-six states have „Romeo and Juliet” laws, or age limit laws, that legalize sexual activity between underage participants if they are close enough to each other in age. The maximum age differences in these laws vary from state to state. For example, in Colorado, the age of consent is 17, but people under 15 can consent to a partner under four years older, and those under 15 or 16 can consent to a partner up to 10 years older. By comparison, Arizona law sets the age of consent at 18, allowing teens between the ages of 15 and 17 to consent to sex with partners under 24 months of age. Aruba, Honduras, Costa Rica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadies have the lowest age of consent in North America at 15. In the United States, the age of consent is determined individually by each state and ranges from 16 to 18. Most South American countries choose 14 as the age of consent, including Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Chile and Argentina, however, have the highest age of consent in America at 18. The age of consent in Mexico is 17. However, each of Mexico`s 20 territories also has its own age of consent laws, with minimum consent ranging from 14 in Tlaxcala to 18 in many regions. Mexico does not have an exemption for consent to the completion of old age. This means that two people under the age of 17 who voluntarily engage in sexual activity will both be prosecuted for rape. This also applies if one of the partners is 16 years old and the other is 17 years old. Europe: Spain previously had the lowest age of consent in Europe, but raised it from 13 to 16 in 2013, as did the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Belgium. Children aged 14 and over are considered capable of giving consent in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Portugal. In contrast, the age of consent in Turkey is much higher at 18. The legal age at which a person can consent to sexual intercourse in Nigeria is 11 years. This consensus age is the lowest in the world. The Philippines and Angola follow closely behind, with the age of consent in both countries being 12.

Africa: In most parts of southern Africa, including Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, people can consent to sex from the age of 16. In Libya and Sudan, the age of consent is not fixed, but marriage is required by law before sexual relations are allowed. There are 13 countries that do not have a legal age of consent, and people in those countries can only engage in sexual activity if they are married. These countries have a predominant Islamic population. These include Sudan and Libya in Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Maldives, Pakistan, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. South America: In Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, the age of consent is 14, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Paraguay, on the other hand, has set the age for heterosexual relations at 14, but at 16 for homosexual relations and has no age-related exemption. In Chile, where the age of consent is 18, it is possible that two people aged 17 or younger who voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse could be prosecuted for legal rape, although this is rare.