In many jurisdictions, the age of consent is interpreted to mean mental or functional age. As a result, victims can be of any chronological age if their mental age makes them unable to consent to a sexual act. Other jurisdictions, such as Kentucky, eliminate the legal concept of “mental age” and treat sexting with a mentally incapacitated person as a specific crime. Laws vary in their definitions of
statutory rape. It is generally intended to punish heinous cases of an adult taking sexual advantage of a minor. Thus, many jurisdictions prohibit allowing a juvenile to be tried as an adult under this law (most jurisdictions have separate provisions for child molestation or forcible rape which can be applied to juveniles and for which a minor can be tried as an adult).</p> <p style="text-align: justify">Some jurisdictions also specify a minimum difference in age in order for the offense to be applicable. Under such terms, if the adult is, for instance, less than three years older than the minor, no crime has been committed or the penalty is far less severe. These are called “Romeo and Juliet” clauses. Statutory rape laws are based on the premise that until a person reaches a certain age, that individual is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse. Thus, the law assumes, even if he or she willingly engages in sexual intercourse, the sex is not consensual.</p> <p style="text-align: justify">Critics argue that an age limit cannot be used to determine the ability to consent to sex, since a young teenager might possess enough social sense to make informed and mature decisions about sex, while some adults might never develop the ability to make mature choices about sex, as even many mentally healthy individuals remain naive and easily manipulated throughout their lives. Another rationale comes from the fact that minors are generally economically, socially, and legally unequal to adults. By making it illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor, statutory rape laws aim to give the minor some protection against adults in a position of power over the youth</p> <p style="text-align: justify">Another argument presented in defense of statutory rape laws relates to the difficulty in prosecuting forced rape (against a victim of any age) in the courtroom. Because forced sexual intercourse with a minor is considered to be a particularly heinous form of rape, these laws relieve the prosecution of the burden to prove lack of consent. This makes conviction more frequent in cases involving minors.</p> <p style="text-align: justify">The original purpose of statutory rape laws was to protect young, unwed females from males who might impregnate them and not take responsibility by providing support for the child. In the past, the solution to such problems was often a “shotgun wedding”, a forced marriage called for by the parents of the girl in question. This rationale aims to preserve the marriageability of the girl and to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancy. Historically a man could defend himself against statutory rape charges by proving that his victim was already sexually experienced prior to their encounter (and thus not subject to being corrupted by the defendant). A requirement that the victim be “of previously chaste character” remained in effect in some U.S. states until as late as the 1990s.</p>
There are a few problems with the current law on statutory rape. First of all the law is confusing. The current law is: "when someone of or over the age of consent has sex with someone below the age of consent, it is considered statutory rape." (http://www.loveandlearn.com/questions). What is the official age of consent? There isn't one; the age of consent varies from state to state. For example in Iowa it is 14 but in North Dakota it is 18 (http://www.ageofconsent.com). The second problem with the current law regarding statutory rape is that it gets a lot of young couples into major legal trouble. The third is that the current law does not give teens the freedom to make choices about their personal sexual relationships.
My proposal to fix these problems is to have a national age of consent of 16, and a 2 year buffer zone. Having a national age of consent would limit the confusion between state to state about the law dramatically.
The buffer zone would prevent 18 year and 19 year olds from getting into legal trouble with their 16 and 17 year old partners. Also the buffer zone also gives those teens the freedom of choice they deserve.
In Henry L. Tischler's text book Introduction to Sociology he states "On the average, in a first marriage... the man tends to be about 2 years older than the woman." The idea to the buffer zone is that this 2 year age gap represents society as a general whole. Teens are apart of society so the age gap for consensual sex should apply to them also. Here's an example of how the buffer zone would work: an 18 year old can legally have sex with a 16 year old because it is within the 2...