Opponents remained focused on physiological maturity, however, and argued that girls in their teens were sufficiently developed not to need legal protection.
Moreover, they argued, by late adolescence girls possessed sufficient understanding about how to use the law to blackmail unwary men. Historians have argued that increasing the age of consent also gave the law a more pronounced regulatory dimension.
In practice, these laws were often used to control the behavior of the working-class girls. Yet reformers at the time saw no distinction between protection and regulation: in making it a crime for girls to decide to have sexual intercourse outside marriage, the law protected them from themselves and from prlstitutes immature understanding that led them to behaviors reformers considered immoral. In addition to class, the intersection of race and age also gave the law a regulatory character.
In India, for example, the prevalence of the custom of child marriage among Hindus led the British colonial authorities to apply the age of consent to married as well as unmarried girls, thereby creating a crime of marital rape that did not exist in British law.
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The Indian Penal Code set the age at 10 years; in the age of consent but not the age of marriage was raised to 12 years. As a result, the age of consent regulated the consummation of marriage, ensuring that it was delayed until an age when Indian girls were considered likely to have jamaicca menstruating. A furious debate preceded the enactment of the law, focused in large part on whether the law violated the commitment the British jamaicq had made in not to interfere in native cultures.
That Indian law set the age lower than British law reflected ideas that non-white races "matured earlier," in part because of the environments in which they originated. Australian legislators even claimed that white girls living prostitures sub-tropical climates "ripened" into women earlier than those in Europe. The behavior of underage jajaica gave support to both proponents and opponents of the increased age of consent.
Increasingly living in cities and working in factories, offices and stores, working-class girls with a new freedom from the supervision of family members and neighbors jamaicz a flamboyant, sexually expressive style that extended to consensual sexual activity, usually with men only a few years their elders. Their new freedom brought girls danger as well as pleasure: subordination at work and dependence on men for access to leisure, limited their agency and ability to consent, and sometimes exposed them to sexual violence.
Girls involved in age of consent prosecutions came in roughly equal s from each of those groups.
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In the s, support for setting the age of consent at 16 years or older began to weaken. Characterized by growing economic, social, and cultural independence, girls in their teens assumed a place in western societies quite distinct from that of younger children. New concepts of adolescence and specifically of girlhood normalized sexual activity during the teenage years, at least within peer groups, as "sex play" necessary to achieve adult heterosexuality.
Emboldened and influenced by such ideas, girls more often talked of being "in love" with the men charged with having sex with them, and expressed sexual desire.
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Prosecutors and juries increasingly refused to treat such cases as rape. Legislators, however, did not reduce the legal age of consent. The resulting tension was reflected in slang, most notably the American term "jailbait," dating from the s, that registered cultural recognition of teenage girls as sexually attractive, even sexually active, but legally unavailable. American legislators did amend laws to take of the offender's age during the s and s as teen culture expanded and female adolescents exercised their sexual autonomy.
During and after World War II, if both the male and female were underage or between two and six years above the age of consentthe punishment was reduced. By the s, feminist rape law reform campaigns had helped to expand age of consent laws. Aiming to challenge stereotypes of female passivity and growing concern about male victimization, they prostitjtes it clearer that the laws concerned all youth—male and female—and that the laws protected them from exploitation rather than ensuring their virginity.
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European nations in general did not follow suit. Only Britain, inrevised its legislation, making an act committed by an individual under 18 with one under 16 a separate, lesser offense. A more broadly adopted element of feminist rape law reform was the application of gender-neutral language: instead of referring to "females" the law referred to any "person. Age of consent laws applied only to heterosexual intercourse. The new language criminalized acts between underage boys and women, but not those between boys and men.
Promoted as a means of formalizing equality between men and women, jamxica language won support as a means of protecting boys.
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The treatment of such cases, however, was not gender neutral and drew upon gender stereotypes. In practice, boys were imagined as sexual agents, not victims, and as sexual agents, the prevailing assumption was that they would not be harmed by sexual acts with adult women.
The ruling found a new, "modern" basis for the law: the consequences bo pregnancy for females. Although out of line with a broad shift toward formal legal equality between males and females, the decision fit the circumstances of the small of cases still being prosecuted. And despite this ruling, gender-neutral laws were still enacted around the country.
This debate foreshadowed a new link between the law and ih pregnancy in the s. Conservatives seeking to control adolescent sexuality ed with welfare reform activists. They promoted claims that the enforcement of the age of consent could prevent teenage motherhood and rising welfare costs that resulted from girls' exploitation by adult men.
Few cases actually fit that pattern, but campaigns to publicize and enforce the law on that basis were implemented in voy least 10 states. At the end of the 20th century, outside the U.
In the first half of the 20th century, all the European nations, other than Prosttiutes and Turkey, that had followed the Napoleonic code in treating heterosexual and homosexual hamaica alike had recriminalized homosexual acts, either establishing a total ban or an age of consent higher than that for heterosexual acts. In the last quarter of the century, arguments that boys developed later and needed to be older to appreciate the social consequences of homosexual acts began to fade.
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As a ajmaica of this, parents send their children, especially females, to hustle for the family by engaging them in sexual activities with older men, while subjecting them to both physical and mental abuse which will later have a greater psychological effect on them in life. There were continued reports of the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The law criminalizes sexual relations between an adult and —male or female—younger than 16 and provides for penalties ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment.
Children have fewer legal protections than adults concerning sexual assault. The legal definition of rape is penile penetration of the vagina.
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A person who commits anal rape of is punished by only 10 years in prison. Similar to the situation for women, the distinction created wide discrepancies between cases that had the same element of sexual assault at their core. The risk of ptostitutes assault reportedly was three times higher for children than adults.
Cases were widespread and varied, involving children as young as age four.