Legal dating age law
Like France, many other countries, increased the age of consent to 13 in the 19th century.
Historians have argued that increasing the age of consent also gave the law a more pronounced regulatory dimension.There was one exception: a man's acts with his wife, to which rape law, and hence the age of consent, did not apply.In trials, juries were often unwilling to simply enforce the law.The French Napoleonic code provided the legal context in 1791 when it established an age of consent of 11 years.The age of consent, which applied to boys as well as girls, was increased to 13 years in 1863.By 1920, Anglo-American legislators had responded by increasing the age of consent to 16 years, and even as high as 18 years.
While those ages were well beyond the normal age of menstruation, proponents justified them on scientific grounds that psychological maturity came later than physiological maturity.
Narrowly concerned with sexual violence, and with girls, originally, since the 19th century the age of consent has occupied a central place in debates over the nature of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and been drawn into campaigns against prostitution and child marriage, struggles to achieve gender and sexual equality, and the response to teenage pregnancy.
This module traces the shifting ways that the law has been defined, debated and deployed worldwide and from the Middle Ages to the present.
The broad context for that change was the emergence of an Enlightenment concept of childhood focused on development and growth.
This notion cast children as more distinct in nature from adults than previously imagined, and as particularly vulnerable to harm in the years around puberty.
In 1875, England raised the age to 13 years; an act of sexual intercourse with a girl younger than 13 was a felony. S., each state determined its own criminal law and age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. Although scientists and physicians had established that menstruation and puberty occurred on average around age 14 in Europe at this time, different individuals experienced it at different ages -- a fluid situation at odds with the arbitrary line drawn by whatever age was incorporated into law.