Statutory Rape

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“Two-thirds of births to teenage girls nationwide are fathered by adult men age twenty or older,” (Hsu). This fact partially falls under the category of statutory rape. Depending on the state and its law about statutory rape, at a certain teen year it is allowed for a teenager to be sexually active with any age above their own. However, there is a possibility for a teen to be able to be sexually active with someone older with parental consent, but that also has an age limit to it. Statutory rape has been discussed for several years because of all the different types of cases that have been dealt with in the past, such as the partners being in love, the parents approving the relationship but the consent not mattering, and so on.

According to the Sex Laws website, “statutory rape is illegal sexual activity between two people when it would otherwise be legal if not for their age.” This rape is “non-forcible”; it is the younger age that causes it to be an illegal act unless the male and female are already married (“What is”). It can be assumed that statutory rape came about because of young girls being impregnated by older men. The girls were viewed as victims and, at first, only the men were punished because they were having “sexual intercourse with female[s], who [were] not [their] wife, under the age of consent” according to “Statutory Rape Laws” (9). England, in the 1200s, had a law that made it illegal to have sexual intercourse with a girl under twelve years old, however, they lowered the age to under ten 291 years later. States in America either chose ten or twelve as the age of consent with the idea that it will protect “white females and their premarital chastity as property” (“Statutory Rape Laws” 11). Furthermore, “‘statutory rape was a property crime’” in those years because “females were seen as ‘special property’” (“Statutory Rape Laws” 11). The horrifying part is the law didn’t apply to black females, since they were slaves. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the statutory rape laws were changed to raise the consent. “Statutory Rape Laws” explains that one of the main reasons why the age of consent was risen was because people began to believe women were starting to have sex with men in order to make money, now known as prostitution (13). Finally in 1885, England raised its age of consent to sixteen. Then the states in America began to raise their consent age to either sixteen or eighteen, even one state, Tennessee, raised it up to twenty-one. These changes of age and discussions kept going for hundreds of years until states finally came to an agreement to each have their own consent age, same with England; that is what we have now. Since each state has its own law on the consent age, each state also has its own severity and division of punishment for a statutory rape case. Sandra Norman-Eady lists that twenty-three out of the fifty states in the U.S. break down their law by degree of rape (ranging between first and fourth degrees). “Penalties” for breaking this law run from a couple years in jail or prison to a life-sentence (Norman-Eady). For example, California deems if an individual has sex with a person younger than eighteen years old and the “actor” isn’t three years older or younger, he or she has “up to one year in county jail” (Norman-Eady). Punishments for teens are different then for adults; a teen might go to prison while an adult ends up with jail and a lifetime sex offender registration, according to Burrell. Some states categorize punishment by the age difference that occurs instead of simply the consent age. The “Summary of Current State Laws” states that thirty-four states, being the majority, have the consent age being sixteen years old. Pennsylvania and Hawaii have the lowest age of fourteen. Basically, all the states in America have chosen an age and their belief of the right kind of punishment for breaking the law; all the states are on their own terms and at peace about the...
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