Legal dating age law

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.Laws and regulations based on age were uncommon until the 19th century, and consequently so was possession of proof of age or even knowledge of a precise date of birth.Near the end of the 18th century, other European nations began to enact age of consent laws.Jurist Sir Matthew Hale argued that the age of consent applied to 10- and 11-year-old girls, but most of England's North American colonies adopted the younger age.A small group of Italian and German states that introduced an age of consent in the 16th century also employed 12 years.

Historians have argued that increasing the age of consent also gave the law a more pronounced regulatory dimension.The phrase "within age" was interpreted by jurist Sir Edward Coke as meaning the age of marriage, which at the time was 12 years of age.A 1576 law making it a felony to "unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any woman child under the age of 10 years" was generally interpreted as creating more severe punishments when girls were under 10 years old while retaining the lesser punishment for acts with 10- and 11-year-old girls.In western law, the age of consent is the age at which an individual is treated as capable of consenting to sexual activity.Consequently, any one who has sex with an underage individual, regardless of the circumstances, is guilty of a crime.

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