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Ages of consent in Africa

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Ages of consent in Africa

Age of consent for heterosexual sex by country
     – puberty      – 12
     – 13
     – 14
     – 15
     – 16
     – 17
     – 18
     – 19
     – 20      – must be married      – no data available

The age of consent in Africa for sexual activity varies by jurisdiction across the continent. It ranges from age 12 in Angola to age 18. The specific activity engaged in or the gender of its participants can also be affected by the law. Below is a discussion of the various laws dealing with this subject. The highlighted age refers to an age at or above which an individual can engage in unfettered sexual relations with another person who is also at or above that age. Other variables, for example homosexual and/or sodomy provision(s) that are illegal or close in age exceptions may exist and are stated when relevant.

The below is a list of all jurisdictions in Africa as listed in List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa.

Contents

  • Consent by age 1
  • Algeria 2
  • Angola 3
  • Benin 4
  • Botswana 5
  • Burkina Faso 6
  • Burundi 7
  • Cameroon 8
  • Cape Verde 9
  • Central African Republic 10
  • Ceuta (Spain) 11
  • Chad 12
  • Comoros 13
  • Côte d'Ivoire 14
  • Canary Islands (Spain) 15
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo 16
  • Djibouti 17
  • Egypt 18
  • Equatorial Guinea 19
  • Eritrea 20
  • Ethiopia 21
  • French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France) 22
  • Îles Éparses (France) 23
  • Gabon 24
  • Gambia 25
  • Ghana 26
  • Guinea 27
  • Guinea-Bissau 28
  • Kenya 29
  • Lesotho 30
  • Liberia 31
  • Libya 32
  • Madagascar 33
  • Malawi 34
  • Mali 35
  • Mauritania 36
  • Mauritius 37
  • Madeira (Portugal) 38
  • Mayotte (France) 39
  • Melilla (Spain) 40
  • Morocco 41
  • Mozambique 42
  • Namibia 43
  • Niger 44
  • Nigeria 45
  • Plazas de soberanía (Spain) 46
  • Republic of the Congo 47
  • Réunion (France) 48
  • Rwanda 49
  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic 50
  • São Tomé and Príncipe 51
  • Senegal 52
  • Seychelles 53
  • Sierra Leone 54
  • Somalia 55
  • South Africa 56
    • History 56.1
  • South Sudan 57
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom) 58
  • Sudan 59
  • Swaziland 60
  • Tanzania 61
  • Togo 62
  • Tunisia 63
  • Uganda 64
  • Zambia 65
  • Zimbabwe 66
  • See also 67
  • References 68

Consent by age

Age Countries (links are to sections on this page)
12 Angola
13 Burkina Faso, Comoros, Niger, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
14 Botswana (Males), Cape Verdi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Females), Lesotho (Males), Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Madeira (Portugal), São Tomé and Príncipe
15 French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France), Îles Éparses (France), Guinea, Mayotte (France), Morocco, Réunion (France)
16 Algeria, Botswana (Females), Cameroon, Ceuta (Spain), Canary Islands, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho (Females), Mauritania, Melilla (Spain), Mozambique, Namibia (Girls), Plazas de soberanía (Spain), Senegal, South Africa, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom), Swaziland, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe
18 Benin, Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Males), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda
Must be Married Libya, Sudan

Algeria

The age of consent in Algeria is 16 for vaginal intercourse. "Heterosexual Sodomy" (anal and/or oral sex with an opposite-sex partner) is illegal, Article 388 of the Penal Code. As well as all same-sex sexual conduct, Article 338, and "outrages to public decency", Article 333. The punishment for both the first two activities with those under 18 years of age is more severe for the older participant.[1]

Angola

The age of consent in Angola is 12.[2] However, while rarely prosecuted, sexual relations with a child between the ages of 12 and 15 can sometimes be considered sexual abuse which is punishable with up to 8 years in prison.[3]

Benin

The age of consent in Benin is 18.[4]

Botswana

The age of consent is 16 for females and 14 for males, but male homosexuality is punishable by 7 years imprisonment.[5]

Burkina Faso

The age of consent is equally set at 13.[6]

Burundi

Under the new Penal Code of 2009 (in French), the age of consent in Burundi for heterosexuals (both men and women) is 18 years.[6] However, under Article 567, homosexual acts (both men and women) carry a fine of up to 100,000 Burundian francs and up to 3 years imprisonment.[7]

Cameroon

The age of consent in Cameroon is 16.[8]

Cape Verde

The age of consent in Cape Verde is 14.[9]

Central African Republic

The minimum age of sexual consent is 18 years of age.[9]

Ceuta (Spain)

The age of consent in Cueta is 16, as it is under under Spanish sovereignty, as of 1 July 2015.[10]

Chad

The age of consent in Chad is 14 for girls, even if she is married, but the ban is rarely enforced.[11] The age of consent for boys is not known.

Comoros

The age of consent in the Comoros is 13.[12]

Côte d'Ivoire

The age of consent in Côte d'Ivoire is 18.[13]

Canary Islands (Spain)

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The age of consent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 14 for females and 18 for males.[14]

Djibouti

The age of consent is 18.[15] Although Djiboutian law establishes that parties to a marriage should be 18 or over, there is an exemption in cases where minors may marry with the consent of their guardians. Effectively this means the age of consent is lower than 18, especially in rural areas; in 2007, 13.6% of married women under the age of 50 married before the age of 18.[16]

Egypt

The age of consent in Egypt is 18 years, for heterosexual males and females. Sex work is illegal and the sex work law has been used against male and female homosexuals.[17]

Equatorial Guinea

The age of consent is 18.[18]

Eritrea

The age of consent in Eritrea is 18, as stipulated by Article 595.[19]

Ethiopia

The minimum age for consensual sex is 18 years.[9] The law, however, is not enforced; nearly 20% of girls are married by the age of 15. Early childhood marriage is especially common in rural areas, where some girls are married as young as 7 years old.[20]

French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France)

Îles Éparses (France)

Gabon

The age of consent in Gabon is 18.[21]

Gambia

The age of consent is 18.[22]

Ghana

The age of consent is 16.[23]

Guinea

The age of consent is 15.[24]

Guinea-Bissau

The age of consent is 16.[25]

Kenya

The age of consent in Kenya is 18 years, as children are defined as those 18 or younger and are not able to give consent.[26] Marriage is possible at ages of 18 or less; although the law is unclear, this probably confers adult status to the participant.[27] Male homosexuality in Kenya is illegal; female homosexuality may be illegal.[28]

Lesotho

The age of consent is 16 for girls (sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 is considered rape), and 14 for boys.[29]

Liberia

The age of consent in Liberia is 18.[30] Statutory rape is a first-degree rape offense which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The age of consent was raised to 18, from 16, in 2009.[31][32]

Libya

During the Gaddafi government, the regular age of consent was 18, but 16 years old women could be married as long the parents consented. Pre-marital sex was illegal.

After the 2011 revolution, the age of consent limit was removed. Presently, there is no defined age of consent, although sex is not allowed outside of marriage.[33]

Madagascar

Age of consent is 14 years, according to article 331 in the Criminal Law. In certain cases, including relatives and homosexuals, it is 21 years.Droit francophone: Code Pénal du 17 juin 1972 mis à jour au 30 juin 1998

Malawi

The age of consent is 14.[34][35]

Mali

The age of consent is 18.[36]

Mauritania

The age of consent is 16.[37] However, under section 306 of the Legal Code, any act that violates Islamic Morality is illegal, but a clear definition of morality does not exist in the country's laws, so it is very open to interpretation by local officials as to what is moral and what is not. Thus, many acts surrounding the age of consent could be considered illegal.[38]

Mauritius

The age of consent in Mauritius is 14.

Article 249 ‘Rape, attempt upon chastity and illegal sexual intercourse’ of the Penal Code:[39]

(...) Any person who has sexual intercourse with a female 'under the age of fourteen (14), even with consent, shall be liable to penal servitude not exceeding ten (10) years.

Madeira (Portugal)

Mayotte (France)

Melilla (Spain)

Morocco

The age of consent is 15, per Art. 484 of the Penal Code.[40]

Mozambique

The age of consent is 16.[41]

Namibia

The age of consent is 16 for girls.

‘Sexual offences with girls under sixteen (16) years’, Section 14 of the 'Combating of Immoral Practices Act 1980'

'(1) Any male who

a) has or attempts to have unlawful carnal intercourse with a girl under the age of sixteen (16) years; or

b) commits or attempts to commit with such a girl an immoral or indecent act;

c) solicits or entices such a girl to the commission of an immoral or indecent act, -shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six years with or without a fine not exceeding three thousand rand in addition to such imprisonment.

(2) It shall be a sufficient defence to any charge in terms of this section if it appears to the court -

a) that the girl at the time of the commission of the offence was a prostitute, that the person so charged was at the said time under the age of twenty-one (21) years and that it is the first occasion on which he is so charged; or

b) that the person who charged was at the said time under the age of sixteen (16) years ; and

c) that the girl or person in whose charge she was, deceived the person so charged into believing that she was over the age of sixteen (16) years at the said time.' [42]

Niger

Article 284 of the Niger legal code sets the age of consent at 13 years.[43]

Nigeria

The age of consent is 18 years. [Section 31 of the Child's Rights Act 2003. Also Sections 21 and 22 of the same Act prohibit Child marriage or betrothal.] However, homosexuality is illegal.

Plazas de soberanía (Spain)

Republic of the Congo

The age of consent in the Republic of the Congo is 18. Sex with a minor is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of 10,000,000 CFA.[44]

Réunion (France)

Rwanda

The age of consent in Rwanda is 18 years, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.[17]

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

The age of consent is 13 years.

São Tomé and Príncipe

The age of consent in São Tomé and Príncipe is 14 for heterosexual and 16 years for homosexual.[45]

Senegal

The age of consent in Senegal is 21 (Article 320 deals with children under 16; Article 319 deals with children under 13). Homosexual sex is illegal.[46]

Seychelles

The age of consent is 18.[47]

According to the U.S. State Department, the Seychelles age of consent is "traditionally understood" to be 15 but that the country's statutes "fail to clearly define the ages of consent and legal majority" and causing confusion in regards to the "traditionally understood" age of consent and the age of majority of 18 and therefore complicating enforcement of the law.[48]

Sierra Leone

The age of consent is 18 under the new Sexual Offenses Act 2012.[49]

Somalia

Article 29 of the national constitution of Somalia defines a child as any individual under the age of 18, and stipulates that "every child has the right to be protected from mistreatment, neglect, abuse, or degradation."[50] Homosexual sex is illegal.[51]

South Africa

The age of consent in South Africa is 16, as specified by sections 15 and 16 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007. Section 15 ("statutory rape") prohibits the commission of "an act of sexual penetration with a child who is 12 years of age or older but under the age of 16 years", while section 16 ("statutory sexual assault") prohibits the commission of "an act of sexual violation with a child who is 12 years of age or older but under the age of 16 years". [52] The law includes a close-in-age exception, so that sexual acts between two children where both are between 12 and 16, or where one is under 16 and the other is less than two years older, are not criminal.[52] Children under the age of 12 are conclusively presumed by the law to be incapable of consenting, so a sexual act with a child under that age constitutes rape or sexual assault.[53]

History

Under the Roman-Dutch common law there was a conclusive presumption that girls under the age of 12 were unable to consent to sexual intercourse.[54] This presumption can be traced back to the "old authorities" of the seventeenth century.[55]

The Girls' and Mentally Defective Women's Protection Act, 1916, which replaced the differing age of consent laws of the four colonies that formed the Union of South Africa, criminalised sexual intercourse between a man and a girl under the age of sixteen unless they were married. This act was replaced by a similar prohibition in section 14 of the Immorality Act, 1957. Although sex between men was already illegal, prohibited by the common law as "sodomy" or "unnatural sexual acts", the Immorality Act also criminalised sexual intercourse between a man and a boy under sixteen.

The Immorality Amendment Act, 1969, which was enacted in response to a national moral panic over homosexuality, raised to 19 the age below which the Immorality Act prohibited sex between males. The Immorality Amendment Act, 1988 inserted mirror provisions applying to women, prohibiting intercourse between a woman and a boy under 16 or a girl under 19. It also renamed the Immorality Act to the Sexual Offences Act, 1957.

The Interim Constitution, which came into force in 1994, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as does the final Constitution which replaced in 1997. As a result, the Constitutional Court struck down the laws prohibiting homosexual sex in the 1998 case of National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Justice. That case did not, however, address the difference between the heterosexual and homosexual ages of consent in section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act.

In the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, Parliament reformed and codified the law on sexual offences and made it gender-neutral. The common-law presumption relating to girls under 12 was replaced by a general presumption that children under 12 cannot consent. The act also fixed the age of consent at 16 for all sexual acts. In the 2008 case of Geldenhuys v National Director of Public Prosecutions, the Constitutional Court held that the former difference in the ages of consent had been unconstitutional.[56]

South Sudan

The age of consent in South Sudan is 18.[57][58][59][60]

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom)

Age of sexual consent is 16, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender

Sudan

Intercourse in Sudan is against the law if not married '.[61]

Swaziland

The age of consent is 16.

A girl under the age of fourteen (14) cannot consent to sexual intercourse under criminal law. However, under Statutory Law, according to the Girls and Women Protection Act, a girl under the age of sixteen (16) can not in any way consent to sexual intercourse.[62]

Tanzania

The age of consent is 18 in Tanzania, but as of 2010/2011 the law is not enforced.[63]

Togo

The age of consent in Togo is 16.[64]

Tunisia

The age of consent in Tunisia is 18 (since 2010). However, there appears to be a marital exception in the law that allows a minor over 15 to consent to sex with an adult if the minor is married to the adult.[65][66]

Uganda

The age of consent in Uganda is 18 years, for vaginal intercourse. "Heterosexual sodomy" (anal and/or oral sex with an opposite-sex partner) and all same-sex sexual conduct was illegal until January 2014 when President Museveni blocked the anti-gay law.

Zambia

The age of consent is 16.[67]

Zimbabwe

The age of consent in Zimbabwe is 16 years for heterosexual males, females and lesbian females. Having sex with a minor gives rise to charges of statutory rape. Case law gives guidance to the years of imprisonment, with age difference between participants playing a role in sentencing (usually between 12 to 16). All male same-sex hand-holding and/or male same-sex sexual conduct can lead to one year's imprisonment.

See also

References

  1. ^ Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture edited by David A. Gerstner page 648
  2. ^ "Comparative Criminology | Africa - Angola". Rohan.sdsu.edu. 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  3. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". State.gov. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  4. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". State.gov. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  5. ^ "Botswana - age of sexual consent". Ageofconsent.com. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  6. ^ a b "Age of Sexual Consent". AVERT. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  7. ^ "Burundi homosexuality". News.google.com.au. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  8. ^ "Cameroon | Africa". Fosigrid.org. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  9. ^ a b c "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012". State.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  10. ^ https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-1995-25444&p=20121228&tn=1#a183
  11. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". State.gov. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  12. ^ "Republique Federale Islanique Des Comores : Assemblee Federale". Comores-droit.com. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
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  14. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". State.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  15. ^ Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Reference Handbook - Karen L. Kinnear - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  16. ^ "Djibouti: Forced marriage". Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 4 March 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Legislation of INTERPOL member states on sexual offences against children". INTERPOL. 
  18. ^ "2009 Human Rights Report". State.gov. 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  19. ^ "Convention on the Rights of the Child" (PDF). Ohchr.org. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  20. ^ "FACTSHEET: Child Marriage" (PDF). Girl Up. 
  21. ^ [16]
  22. ^ Knowing our rights By Women Living Under Muslim Laws (Organization), International Solidarity Network. p.125.
  23. ^ [17]
  24. ^ [18]
  25. ^ "2009 Human Rights Report: Guinea-Bissau". State.gov. 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  26. ^ "LEGAL TREATMENT OF CONSENT IN SEXUAL OFFENCES IN KENYA" (PDF).  
  27. ^ "LEGAL TREATMENT OF CONSENT IN SEXUAL OFFENCES IN KENYA" (PDF).  
  28. ^ "Laws of Kenya: The Penal Code, Chapter 63" (PDF). Republic of Kenya. 2009. p. 67. Arguable that gender neutral "person" in s.162 may include women 
  29. ^ [19]
  30. ^ 2011
  31. ^ [20]
  32. ^ "Women War Survivors of Sexual Violence in Liberia" (PDF). Sosyalarastirmalar.com. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  33. ^ "Submission in the UPR review of Libya" (PDF). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 
  34. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Malawi". Unhcr.org. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
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  37. ^ [22]
  38. ^ "Women on the Frontline: Mauritania Part 1 of 3". YouTube. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  39. ^ [23]
  40. ^ "Country Profile Drugs and Crime : Morocco" (PDF). Unodc.org. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  41. ^ "Comparative Criminology | Africa - Mozambique". Rohan.sdsu.edu. 1975-06-25. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  42. ^ [24]
  43. ^ [25]
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  45. ^ http://www.telanon.info/suplemento/opiniao/2013/05/16/13197/as-novidades-do-novo-codigo-penal/
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  47. ^ [26]
  48. ^ "2013 Trafficking in Persons Report Tier 2 Watch List > Seychelles" (Archive). U.S. State Department. Retrieved on April 25, 2015. "Enforcement of laws relating to the prostitution of children continued to be hampered by unclear and conflicting statutes that fail to clearly define the ages of consent and legal majority, creating confusion between the traditionally understood age of consent of age 15 and the legal age of majority of age 18."
  49. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012". State.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  50. ^ "The Federal Republic of Somalia - Provisional Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
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  52. ^ a b Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Act, No. 5 of 2015
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  54. ^ Milton, John (1996). South African Criminal Law and Procedure: Common-law crimes (3rd ed.). Cape Town: Juta & Co. p. 454.  
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  56. ^ "Consent judgment welcomed". News24. Sapa. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  57. ^ [27]
  58. ^ "Prison is Not For Me": Arbitrary Detention in South Sudan (PDF). Human Rights Watch. 2012. p. 54.  
  59. ^ "Teachers dismissed over schoolgirl pregnancies in Rumbek". Sudan Tribune. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2012. The legal age of consent in South Sudan in [sic] 18... 
  60. ^ Machrine, Birungi (22 November 2011). "MP calls for legal minimum age of marriage". Radio Miraya. Retrieved 21 September 2012. While the age of consent in South Sudan is 18,... 
  61. ^ [28] f
  62. ^ [29]
  63. ^ "2010 Human Rights Report: Tanzania". State.gov. 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2014-02-19.  "The law provides that sexual intercourse with a child under 18 years is rape, regardless of consent; however, the law was not enforced."
  64. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". State.gov. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  65. ^ "Tunisia". Age of Consent. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  66. ^ "Loi n° 2010-39 du 26 Juillet 2010, portant unification de l’âge de la majorité civile". Age of Consent. Retrieved 2015-03-21. 
  67. ^ [30]
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