Highest and Lowest Ages of Consent
The age of consent is the legally defined age at which a person is deemed legally competent to consent to sexual activity. Any individual violating this law is open to prosecution under statutory rape laws.
The age of consent varies state-by-state in the United States and on a countrywide or regional basis around the world. This page lists the highest and lowest legal ages of consent in the USA and round the world.
United States: Highest and Lowest State Ages of Consent
In the United States, the Age of Consent is set on a state-by-state basis. This means that neighbouring states can have different age of consent laws. However, all states have an age of consent that falls within a three-year range.
The highest state Age of Consent in the United States is 18. The Age of Consent is 18 in eleven states - California, New York, Florida, Oregon, Utah, Iowa, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont, and Delaware.
The lowest state Age of Consent in the United States is 16. This is the most common age of consent, and is adopted by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
In the states not mentioned, the legal age of consent is 17. Click here to view a map of ages of consent by state.
Worldwide: Highest and Lowest Ages of Consent By Country
In some areas, most prominently in less developed countries, the age of consent can be a very gray area, and violations may not taken seriously. Some locations do not site a specific age of consent, leaving it more open to interpretation than the countries with more concrete laws.
The lowest Age of Consent in the world is 11, in Nigeria. The age of consent is 12 in the Philippines and Angola, and 13 in Burkina Faso, Comoros, Niger, and Japan. Japan often stands out as the only developed country on the list of lowest ages of consent, but local prefecture statutes in most areas of the country raise the effective age to 16-18.
Additionally, several Middle Eastern and African countries have no legal age of consent, but ban all sexual relations outside of marriage. This has raised concerns by many international organizations, especially in some countries where girls are married at as young as 9 or 10 years old. Countries with marriage-based ages of consent include Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE.