Legal dating age law
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.Revelations of child prostitution were central to those campaigns, a situation that resulted, reformers argued, from men taking advantage of the innocence of girls just over the age of consent. The outcry it provoked pushed British legislators to raise the age of consent to 16 years, and stirred reformers in the U.S, such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the British Empire, and Europe to push for similar legislation.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.At the end of 19th century, moral reformers drew the age of consent into campaigns against prostitution. Stead's series of articles entitled, "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon," published in the Pall Mall Gazette in 1885, was the most sensational and influential of these exposés.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.
It was not only that relying solely on age seemed arbitrary to them; at least until the end of the 19th century, age had limited salience in other aspects of daily life.An underage girl did not have to physically struggle and resist to the limit of her capacity in order to convince a court of her lack of consent to a sexual act, as older females did; in other words, the age of consent made it easier to prosecute a man who sexually assaulted an underage girl.However, since the age of consent applied in all circumstances, not just in physical assaults, the law also made it impossible for an underage female to consent to sexual activity.Like France, many other countries, increased the age of consent to 13 in the 19th century.Nations, such as Portugal, Spain, Denmark and the Swiss cantons, that adopted or mirrored the Napoleonic code likewise initially set the age of consent at 10-12 years and then raised it to between 13 and 16 years in the second half of the 19th century. laws did not change in the wake of England's shift. Behind the inconsistency of these different laws was the lack of an obvious age to incorporate into law.