Legal age of consent sex
The age of consent is the age at which a person is considered to be legally competent to consent to sexual acts. Consequently, an adult who engages in sexual activity with a person younger than the age of consent is unable to legally claim that the sexual activity was consensual, and such sexual activity may be considered child sexual abuse or statutory rape. The person below the minimum age is regarded as the victim, and their sex partner is regarded as the offender, unless both are underage. The purpose of setting an age of consent is to protect an underage person from sexual advances. The term age of consent rarely appears in legal statutes. It has sometimes been used with other meanings, such as the age at which a person becomes competent to consent to marriage ,  but the meaning given above is the one now generally understood.
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The purpose of these guidelines is solely to protect young people aged 13, 14 and 15 from harm. The question of compliance with the law is a separate issue and is not addressed by these guidelines. There are some points where the two issues are likely to coincide; for example, where a young person is at risk of harm as a result of sexual abuse. There are other points where they do not coincide; for example, where young people are involved in consensual sexual relationships and are not at risk of harm. The law changed on 1st December when the new Sexual Offences Act came into force. Under the new Act:. Civil law is just as important as criminal law, sometimes more so.
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Jump to content. This factsheet summarises some of the key points of UK law relating to sexual behaviour. It does not constitute legal advice. The age of consent to any form of sexual activity is 16 for both men and women. The age of consent is the same regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of a person and whether the sexual activity is between people of the same or different gender.
The age at which a person is deemed legally competent to consent to sexual activity varies widely around the world - and even within Europe. Most countries prohibit sex with unders or unders, but in some places the age of consent is as low as 11, or as high as However, even within counties this can vary widely between males and females and in cases of heterosexual and homosexual sex. In the UK, the age of consent stands at 16, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. So how does this compare with the rest of the world?