Legalized Statutory Rape by the Numbers

The Roar Meter is a weekly story in numbers.

  • Highest age of sexual consent in the U.S.: 18
  • Lowest age of sexual consent in the U.S.: 16
  • Highest age of sexual consent worldwide: 21 (Bahrain)
  • Lowest age of sexual consent worldwide: 11 (Nigeria)
  • Number of girls worldwide married before their 18th birthday: 700 million
    • 1 in 3 of them was married before her 15th birthday

At least 38 US states allow minors to marry, usually girls; while most states’ official minimum age for marriage is 18, most allow for parental consent, consent by emancipated minors, or other loopholes.

  • 27 states have no age floor.
  • 1 state (Virginia) requires parties to both be legal adults (including emancipated minors 16+)
  • 2 states (Nebraska and Oregon) require parties be 17
    • Nebraska’s age of majority is 19, and they require parental consent for 17 and 18 year olds.
  • 11 states and D.C require parties be 16.
  • 5 states require parties be 15.
  • 3 states require parties be 14.
  • New Hampshire has the lowest age floor: 13 for girls, 14 for boys.
  • Massachusetts has no age floor but case law suggests a minimum age of 12 for girls (14 for boys)

Annika Barranti Klein is a writer, knitter, women’s banked track roller derby referee, and radical homeschooling mother. Her work has appeared at The Toast, The Establishment, and on Book Riot. She is a cis, white, bi-furious intersectional feminist.

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