Sexual consent entails free and voluntary agreement to engage in any sexual act with someone else. According to law, as set in the Sexual Offences Act, it is a crime to take part in any form of sexual activity with someone who has not given consent. While sexual consent is general, age of consent narrows down to the legally defined age at which a person is considered legally competent to consent to sexual acts. The age of consent varies around the world with the majority of countries having their age of consent between 16 and 18 years as they prohibit sex with under-18s, including Kenya.
There are some countries like Paraguay that have the age limit at 14 for heterosexual relations and 16 for homosexuals. However, most countries around the world have a standard legal age of consent regardless of gender or sexual orientation
The highest age of consent in the world is 21 years, in Bahrain, and the second highest is South Korea's 20.
On the other hand, Nigeria has the lowest age of consent in the world at 11 after they lowered it from 18 in 2015. However, this limit varies across the Nigerian states as some have since to 18. According to the Nigeria Age of Consent and Statutory Rape Laws which states that: "the statutory rape law is violated when an individual has consensual sexual contact with a person under age 11 year," preteens are superficially considered legally old enough to consent to sexual acts.
Philippines and Angola are not far off from Nigeria with both having an age of consent of 12 years. Japan, Burkina Faso, Comoros, and Niger have theirs at 13. In Europe, Spain had the lowest age of consent until 2013 when they raised it to 16 from 13. In raising the limit, they joined a majority of European countries including the UK, Russia, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Norway. Germany, Austria, Portugal, Hungary, and Italy, however, consider children as young as 14 able to consent to sex.
In the United States, the age of consent varies state by state. The highest limit is 18 and is only in eleven states while a majority of the states have their age of consent at 16. It is interesting to note that in the U.S. neighbouring states can have different age of consent laws.
There are some countries where the age of consent is a very gray area, and violations are likely not taken as seriously, especially in remote areas. However, there are places with concrete laws about violations of the Sexual Offences Act. Several countries in Africa and the Middle East have no legal age of consent, but they ban all sexual relations that are outside marriage. In as much as this has raised concerns as there are cases where girls are married off as early as at nine years old, the countries with marriage-based ages have maintained their ideologies. These countries include Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Yemen, Afghanistan, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
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