In laws, the age of consent refers to the age when someone is capable of consenting to sexual activity. The age of consent maintains an important place in debates over the nature of adolescence, childhood, and adulthood. It has also been a central point in campaigns against child marriages and prostitution. Keep reading to learn more.
What Does Age of Consent Mean?
It basically refers to the legal age to have sex. The laws regarding the age of consent may vary from country to country, but the most common age of sexual consent is 16. It may as well be a bit different for boys and girls, and may change a bit when you are homosexual. In some part of the US and Egypt, the age of consent is 18. The heterosexual age of consent in Northern Ireland is 17, whereas it is 16 in the UK and Namibia. It is different in other countries. For instance:
- Sweden – age 15
- China and Canada – age 14
- Korea – age 13
- Mexico – age 12
The age of consent in each state of the US is:
What Does It Mean to Me?
What does age of consent mean and why is it important? Essentially it means that if you have sex with someone when you or they are under the age of consent, then you are breaking the law – even if you both have sex willingly. It is therefore important to know the law and how it applies to you in your area, and understand that different cultures treat ‘sex’ differently. In some places, even kissing is considered a sexual contact.
Can I Have Sex If Under the Age of Consent?
Of course you can, though the law regarding the age of consent is not used for consensual teenage sexual behavior, it doesn’t mean it’s ok to have underage sex. You can still find out about sex by exploring your own body and what works for you.
Learning how to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, will also help you become more confident when the time is right to have sex.
What Does Sexual Offences Actually Mean?
Age of consent laws are there to protect young people from sexually exploited by adult. It means that if the law finds an adult exploiting a teen sexually, they will be charged with a sexual offense such as:
Statutory rape: The crime for those who have sex with a person under the age of consent, but who is past the age of puberty. Unlike “forcible rape” statutory rape can involve underage participants who willingly agree to have sex.
Child sexual abuse: The term for an adult using their age or authority over a young prepubescent person to have any type of sexual contact.
If you are involved in a sexually abusive relationship, you should talk to someone or contact a health care professional for support.
How to Protect Yourself from Sexual Assault
Now you have the answer to your question, “What does age of consent mean?” It is equally important to understand that even though there are laws for your protection, you should still take some steps to protect yourself from sexual abuse and assault. Here are a few things to bear in mind.
1. Always Stay Calm and Aware
An attacker is not likely to pick you if you look confident. Be sure to keep your hands free and look around. It makes you look more aware of your surroundings and keep attackers away.
2. Learn About Ways to Ask for Help
You are more likely to find yourself in dangerous situations when you do not take an initiative or feel embarrassed to make a move. Many people end up in dangerous situations because they didn’t want to inconvenience others or because they feel embarrassed. Others assume that people must notice the problem and are just choosing not to help. Learn Practice assertive advocacy with phrases like, “This is an emergency. Please call 911.”
3. Be Careful About Your Food and Drinks at Parties
People can put drugs in your drink that leave you confused, unconscious, or helpless. Do not accept a drink from anyone you do not know or trust completely. The best thing is to get up and help yourself – do not accept drinks from anyone.
4. Stay in Charge of Yourself and Your Environment
Keep in mind that alcohol and drug use often play a part in many sexual assaults. Use your awareness to notice when a person seems to be losing control and be ready to leave if need be. Remember that you are more vulnerable to being attacked if your use of alcohol or drugs has caused your awareness or judgment to be lessened.
5. Learn Specific Physical Self-Defense Skills
You can utilize these techniques when someone tries to hurt you. While you can always run away, pull away, or yell to get out of a situation, you may have to take the other route and hurt the other person to protect yourself. A kick to the lower thigh, to the groin or a punch to the face along the jaw-line may give you enough time to run away and save yourself.