Statutory rape or underage rape is a term used to describe consensual sexual relations between two individuals where one of the individual is not old enough to legally consent to the behaviour. This is different from other types of rape in the sense that no physical force or threat of physical force is used to subdue an individual. Underage rape is little complex in nature as the legally permissible age of an individual to have consensual sex differs from land to land. In some countries it is 14 years, in some other countries it is 16 years and in many other it is 18 years. Irrespective of the difference in age limits, the actual idea of considering an individual as a minor rests on the fact that such an individual is not old enough to give consent to consensual sexual relations. Therefore, for young people who are having consensual sexual relations, it is important for them to know whether they are legally permitted to have such a relation as per the law of the land. Otherwise later, if one individual who turns out to be a minor presses charge against the other then it would be considered as statutory or underage rape. Therefore underage rape is a term used in legal jurisdictions to describe sexual relations that is consensual in nature but where one individual is not old enough to legally consent to the behavior.
Underage rape: The age of consent
As I said before, statutory rape or underage rape refers to adults engaging in sex with minors under the “age of consent”. The “age of consent” can be defined as that age crossing which the individuals are considered competent to give consent to sexual conduct. This can be 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 as per the law of any particular land. Therefore underage rape or statutory rape charges can be pressed against an individual even if he has consensual sexual relationships with a minor who has not crossed the “age of consent”.
Underage rape: Different terms given for statutory rape
Statutory rape is actually a generic term used to connote underage rape. Different jurisdictions in different parts of the world use many different terms for the crime called as statutory rape or underage rape. These can be terms such as “sexual assault," "rape of a child," "corruption of a minor," "carnal knowledge of a minor," "unlawful carnal knowledge", or simply "carnal knowledge."
Underage rape: Difference between statutory rape and forcible rape
Once again I would like to emphasize on the fact that Statutory rape differs from forcible rape in that overt force or threat need not be present in this situation. Therefore under the laws, “Statutory Rape is illegal sexual activity between two people when it would otherwise be legal if not for their age”. Almost every law in countries around the world adequately states the above fact. For example if we look at one particular definition of a central law enforcing agency of a major country we will find that the definition explicably states that statutory rape is characterized as non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is younger than the statutory age of consent. It can be also defined in another manner. Here the term statutory rape also generally refers to sex between an adult and a sexually mature minor past the age of puberty. The word minor means that the individual is below the age of consent. Here the laws presume that having even consensual sex with minors would connote to coercion on the part of the adult as a minor is considered legally incapable of giving consent to the act of sex. On the other hand sexual relations with a prepubescent child which is also called as “child sexual abuse” or “child molestation” or “child rape” is treated as a more serious crime.
Article by Sanjay Nair
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