It is appalling that it took this long for people to consent to the importance it needs, center conversations about sexual conduct around consent, and recognize that there is no non-consensual sex because that is called rape. It is further appalling that we are still a long ride away from when consent will be taught as commonly and naturally as children’s manners.
We can only hope for a future where consent will become a part of sex education, which, in turn, will become a basic necessity to be taught to each child in every country. Maybe then, it won’t take victims years to realize what had been done to them was wrong, that anything except a direct yes is a no.
Consent shouldn’t be available only to those who can access an education. It shouldn’t be a privilege; it should be a right. That means everyone, no matter the caste, income, race, religion, country, should know that they have a right over their body, that they have a right to say no, that their discomfort, trauma, and pain come before someone else’s pleasure.
The fact that the knowledge of consent is accessible to only a small section of society, the ones who have the privilege of having internet and social media, speaks volumes about how and why rapes and cases of sexual assault and harassment happen in large numbers all over the world.
The fact that young girls and women in developing and third world nations are taught to be submissive before being married off at an early age means that they never get an opportunity to learn their right to say no; instead, they are taught that their bodies belong to men they’re married off to.
The fact that men, after the MeToo movement, joke about feeling scared to ask a woman out shows that they don’t respect women or believe them to be independent individuals who don’t owe them anything and that those very men will call a woman “crazy” if she says no, and “easy” if she says yes.
The age of consent differs according to countries and states within the countries. But before delving into that, it is essential to understand what consent is.
What Is Consent?
Broadly, consent means to permit or allow something to happen. It needs to be a voluntary agreement by all parties involved. In the case of sexual consent, it means an understanding of participation in sexual activity by those engaged in it.
Consent is never ambiguous; it is clear and decisive. Anything short of that is not consent. Consent helps create boundaries, make sure no one is doing anything against their will, and create a healthy environment.
Most laws don’t permit or consider consent to be given under intoxication if one of the partners is minor or unconscious. Forcing someone to say yes is not consent. Making someone say yes as a part of some work barter exchange is not consent. Consent is also not a given, even if the participating adults are married (in most countries).
In any case, consent needs to be willingly given. Consent can also be withdrawn at any point in time during sexual activity. Click here to learn more about consent and cues surrounding both its presence and absence.
Age Of Consent And What It Means
The age of consent means establishing an age within the bracket of which the participants engaging in the sexual activity can be deemed competent enough to do so. Most countries have set this age at 16, taking in factors like the individual’s maturity and capacity. That means when two consenting teenagers of the age of 16 participate in sexual activity, it is considered consensual both ways (in most countries).
Anyone under the age of 16, in this case, cannot consent legally. An 18-year-old and a 15-year-old engaging in sexual activity could mean implications of statutory rape in many countries.
Sexual consent in most countries varies between 13 years to 18 years. There are close-in-age exemptions in many countries and a different set of laws according to gender, sex, and sexual orientation. Some countries do not have an age of consent; in this case, all sexual activity outside of marriage is illegal.
Age Of Consent Around The World
The lowest age of consent in the world is set at 11 years old in Nigeria. In most parts of Africa, the age of consent is 16 years old. Another controversial age of consent is 12 years old in the Philippines. In Germany, Italy, Austria, and Hungary, the age of consent is 14 years old.
In India, the age of consent is 18 years old, while in other Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, the age is 13 years old. The age of consent in Thailand is 15 years old.
In Mexico, the age is 17 years old, while it is 16 years old in Canada. Most European countries have an age of consent between 14-16 years old. The age of consent in all the UK is 16 years old.
Age Of Consent In The United States Of America
According to the State, in the United States of America, the age of consent varies between 16 and 18. However, there are also close-in-age exemptions, also known as Romeo and Juliet laws, because consensual sex between two minors of the same or close age cannot be considered a crime. Solely to decriminalize consensual sex between two minors, or a minor with a person slightly elderly, exemption laws were created. However, these exemptions vary in all US states and aren’t even applicable in some.
Since sexual and emotional maturity is subjective, these laws aren’t fixed or uniform across the country. However, one thing remains common- sex between a minor and adult, with a significant age difference, is not considered consensual and is unethical, immoral, and plain disgusting in all aspects.
For instance, the age of consent in California is 18, but there is no close-in-age exemption. That means that even consensual sexual acts between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old can result in the latter being charged for statutory rape. In Indiana, the age of consent is 16 years, and there are close-in-age exemptions, meaning that consensual sex between a 15-year-old and 16-year-old will not be considered a crime.
In Delaware, the age of consent is 16-years-old, but with close-in-age exemptions. Here, anyone above the age of 16 can consent to sex with someone below 30. However, minors below the age of 16 cannot consent to sex even with an 18-year-old.
There are also marital provisions and school employee exceptions in many states. In Oklahoma, the age of consent is 16, with a close-in-age exemption of 4 years. The age of consent in Florida is 18 years old.
In Pennsylvania, an amendment was passed in 2011, making it illegal for any school employee to engage in sexual acts with a student below 18. This also includes coaches with any affiliated sports institution. The offenders are not always held with statutory rape charges in all states; there can be other criminal charges of sexual battery and sex offense.
Age Of Consent In Florida
The age of consent in Florida is 18 years old. That means an adult involved in sexual activity with a minor can be charged with statuary rape. However, there are close-in-age exemptions in place of around 4-5 years if one (or both) is a minor.
Even if above the age of consent in Florida, there are cases where individuals won’t legally be considered giving their consent. This involves people with mental disorders since they don’t have the same life experience as the other person in the act. It also involves individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or those in the State of unconsciousness, since all of these won’t be in a mental state to offer their consent with deliberation and understanding.
The age of consent in Florida also involves close-in-age exemptions, which allow a minor of 16 or 17 years old to be involved sexually with an adult under 23. These exemptions are also called Romeo and Juliet Laws because, in the Shakespearean story, Romeo was 17 and Juliet was 13, making both four years apart in age, yet popularised as a story of true love.
These exceptions in the age of consent in Florida also decriminalized consenting sex between two minors in many states. This is important because in cases of sexual activity involving two consenting individuals, close to each other in age but below and above the age of consent, the older would permanently register as a sex offender.
The Romeo and Juliet Law of Florida was passed in 2007. The purpose was to distinguish between those accused who were consensually involved with a boyfriend/girlfriend instead of an abuser who had malicious intent and had the power to manipulate and exploit the victim. While this law does make sexual intercourse between a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old illegal, it also allows the latter to petition the court to remove their name as a registered sex offender if they meet the required criteria.
Statutory Rape Law
Adults involved in sexual acts with a minor below the age of consent in Florida can be charged with sex crimes under the category of statutory rape. The following cases can result in charge of statutory rape:
- An adult over the age of 24 involved sexually with a minor under the age of consent can be charged with statutory rape. This penalty is stated as “Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.” This results in a second-degree felony, along with 15 years in prison and a hefty fine.
- An adult over the age of 18 involved sexually with a minor between 12 to 15 can be charged with a third-degree felony or a life sentence.
- An adult involved with a child under the age of 12 can be charged with a felony of the first-degree or a capital offense.
- An adult looking up pornography involving children on the internet, or talking to a minor about sexual acts, can be charged with a felony.
Registered sex offenders involved in multiple sex crimes can be charged with up to 40 years in prison.
Even if it is later proven that the accused was unaware or misinformed about the minor’s age, they can still be charged with statutory rape.
Reporting Statutory Rape in Florida
The parents of a minor, i.e., someone below the age of consent in Florida, can legally press charges on their child’s abuser, even against the child’s co-operation or permission. The case can be taken forward by the State even if the child is unwilling to co-operate. After their 18th birthday, the minor can file a suit against the abuser, but only until they turn 25.
What The Age Of Consent In Florida Means
The age of consent in Florida is 18 years old, with close-in-age exemptions of around 4-5 years. This assures that consensual sex, even if it involves minors, does not result in unfair lifelong consequences on the elder involved in the sexual act. The age of consent in Florida also assures that children and minors are safe and protected by the law. It is legal for their parents to file a suit against the abuser with charges of sex crimes, especially if the age difference is disturbingly large.
Unfortunately, these crimes still happen, not only in Florida but all over the US and the world. These laws have been in place for years, and as more and more cases come up, they are being reformed for the betterment and safety of children against risks of sexual assault.
These Florida statutes are present to reduce sex crimes against children and minors as much as possible while also ensuring that consensual sex, even if between minors, is given legal consideration. Click here to learn more about the age of consent in Florida. And if you are or know of someone who is a victim of sexual abuse, click here for helpful and safe resources.
While consent may seem like a heavy word, parents and teachers must discuss it with children early. We must not underestimate the need to understand consent, especially for children. Since children are easily influenced, it is better if adults who have their best interests in mind, i.e., parents, siblings, or guardians, steer them in the right direction. Typical behavior observed in pedophiles and sex offenders is the ability to manipulate.
If children understand consent from a young age, they will be able to distinguish between problematic and expected behavior, establish boundaries, and respect not only their personal space but others’ as well. This can very well go a long way in preventing sex crimes and spreading awareness so that everyone can recognize abuse and toxic behavior.