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Statutory Rape

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  • May 2005
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Statutory Rape Laws

The term "statutory rape" is used when the government considers people under a certain age to be unable to give consent to sex and therefore consider sexual contact with them to be a rape. The age at which individuals are considered to give consent is called the age of consent. The age of consent can ranging from thirteen to twenty-one, depending on the limits set by each state in accordance with local standards of morality. Even sex that violates the age-of-consent laws but is neither violent nor physically forced is described as statutory rape. In most jurisdictions, the expressions "under-age sex" or "sex with a minor" are more commonly used. After many years of prosecuting statutory rape laws, some people are being to question whether or not these laws when concerning non-violent "sex with a minor" are actually appropriate and effective in protecting the rights of minors. The people who support statutory rape laws would argue that in any relationship where one legal aged partner is significantly older than the other, the older of the two has a greater power advantage over the younger. Thus even if a person under the age of consent agrees to sexual activity, it is still considered lawfully to be rape, because that person is not mature enough to make a well thought-out decision. Adults fear that the younger person in the relationship may be unconsciously forced emotionally, if not physically, into engaging in sexual acts with their partner. According to the Taking Sides (Issue 17), "Statutory rape laws are designed, in part, to keep these types of unequal relationships from becoming human nature." Others who disagree with statutory rape laws claim that the problem arises when young legal aged men, are sentenced to jail for statutory rape based solely on the age difference between him and his partner. These convicted young men state that once the parents of their younger partner find out about the two having sex, the parents just...