Should the Age of Consent Be Lowered (for Sexual Activities)?
To understand the limitations of the age of consent, we first need to understand the concept of it. The basic concept is to control the activities of the young people of the society. The age of consent is a threshold at which the society finds it reasonable for a human to take decisions of life and follow his instincts to take steps forward in life. At this age, a person is not considered as mature or responsible. He/she is responsible for all the actions he/she might take. Law makers of most of the countries around the world think 18 years is the age from which a person shouldn’t be bossed around on everything and he/she should take full responsibility for his/her actions and face consequences for the decisions made.
The age of consent is when the law of state allows someone to drive a car, buy and drink alcohol and sexual intercourse is also considered legal at that age. Someone who is not mature shouldn’t be allowed to make these decisions. Age of consent is also defined legally to stop the youngsters from making inappropriate decisions at a vulnerable age.
Recently, the age of consent has been an important topic of discussion for criminologists and sociologists. Normally two standards for the age of consent govern the creation of such lawsdepending on the country or state you are living. Specialists in the field of studying human behavior suggest that these age limits have nothing to do with the maturity level of people. These limitations are therefore reason of over-criminalization in society. The perfectly normal behavior of people is considered as a criminal offense because the age at which they are allowed to do things is completely irrelevant to the age at which they are mature enough to do those things.
This essay argues that the age of consent should be lower in many jurisdictions. For example, if a girl in high school wants to be involved with a senior at her school but she can’t because she is underage to have sexual intercourse. Though she has passed the threshold of puberty just because it is illegal by the laws of the state, she cannot fulfill a natural desire. If she is naturally developed and is at the age when she has sexual needs then restricting her from her right to be sexually satisfied, how can that be fair? If we make fulfilling natural desire a crime, rate of crime will rise, and the law makers are to be blamed for this.
People who are in favor of this barrier of the age of consent, are of the view that this law saves young girls and boys from being a victim of the desires of older fellows because of their immaturity. I accept that, but that is not the case most of the times. The new generation is much aware of sexual activities at a younger age because of the development of media (Bekaert). There are many cases like the one I discussed earlier in which a girl wants to be a party to sexual activity, but law makers made it illegal for her take decisions about her own body. This complication created by the law made law-makers to re-visit the age of consent.
Hamilton is of the view that for marriage the age limit shouldn’t be 18 or 21. It should be lower than the defined limit (Hamilton, 2012). Janet Loveless is the view that age of consent helps the citizens maintain private morality and also serves as an agent which is saving the society from the factors that can be dangerous for the moral values of the society (Loveless, 2016). In other words, Loveless wants to say that this law maintains the order in the society to some extent and also saves the society from the moral threats like pornography and prostitution. It helps the society to function as it should be working. On the other hand, there are many who disagree with her on this point. Waites says this law has some advantages attached to it, but the main problem is it is trying to suppress a feeling which comes naturally (Waites). Suppressing a natural desire cannot be justified by a society that believes in complete freedom of citizens.
Historically these age limits of 18 and 21 probably make sense, but in the modern world, they mean nothing, and we are just trying to grab onto the society norms which are part of history now (Sampson). Religious ideologies always discussed the suppression of natural desires of humans and presented as a sign of greatness. But in the modern world, these ideas are almost obsolete. In countries like America have sexual relations, not a taboo anymore. People accept having such natural desires. I’m sure we all know some people who are doing it even when it is illegal. I think the age of consent for sexual relations shouldn’t be more than 16, but the sexual offenders and rapist should be brought to justice as it is being practiced.