What is Statutory Rape?
Statutory Rape in Canada is defined as any sexual contact with a person under the age of consent. This usually refers to an adults touching children for sexual purposes.
What is the Age of Consent in Canada?
Canada’s age of consent is 16 years old. The age of consent is consistent across Canada and does not vary between provinces. 16 years old is the minimum age that a person can legally consent to participate in sexual acts. This means that people who are 15 years of age or younger cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Engaging in sexual activity or sexual touching of a person under the age of consent can result in, among other charges, a charge of statutory rape.
In 2008, the age of consent was changed from 14 years of age to 16 years of age. This was the first time that the law on the age of consent had been changed since 1892. This was in part done to deal with the ever-growing issue of internet predators.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, which are called the “close in age exemptions.” There are two close in age exemptions in Canada. The first allows children ages 12 or 13 to consent to sexual activity with someone who is less than two years old than them. The second allows 14 and 15 year olds to consent to sexual activity with partners that are less than five years older than them. Depending on the situation, the close in age exemptions may exempt a person completely from a charge under statutory rape laws or it may merely act as a defence to such a charge.
For example, under the first exemption, if a 13 year old and a 14 year old engage in sexual activities together, this would fall under the first close in age exemption and would not be considered statutory rape. Further, under the second exemption, if a person who is 14 years old and a person who is 18 years old engage in sexual activity together, they would fall under the second close in age exemption and this would not be considered statutory rape.
These exemptions become invalid if there is a third person present or if the sexual act does not take place in private.
Does the Age of Consent Change in Certain Situations?
There are certain situations where the age of consent is raised from 16 years of age to 18 years of age. The age of consent will be raised to 18 years of age when:
- The older party is in a position of authority or a position of trust over the other party OR
- The younger party is in a position of dependency with the older person OR
The relationship is one where the young person is being exploited
There are many different scenarios where the age of consent would be raised to the age of 18. Some of these situations may arise in relationships of trust or authority between, for example, a teacher and student, an employer and employee
In the past, the Canadian Criminal Code stated that every act of anal sex is illegal under the criminal law unless the two people are a married couple or if the two people participating are over the age of 18. In these situations, the age of consent law is very clear and says that both people must be over the age of 18 or married to engage in anal intercourse. However, in 2008, the law was changed so that anal intercourse between two people was treated the same as other kinds of sexual intercourse. Therefore, the close in age exemptions now also apply to anal sex.
How do Canada’s Laws on Statutory Rape Compare to other Countries?
Most countries around the world have some kind of law on the legal age of consent. In most countries, the age of consent is at least 14 years of age. In some American states, it is even higher. Canada’s rules do not change from province to province.
In a few countries, the legal age of consent can be as low as 12 or when the individual goes through puberty. In a few jurisdictions around the world, you must be married to engage in legal sex.