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Encyclopedia > Ages of consent in Africa

The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Africa. The specific activity engaged in or the gender of its participants can also be affected by the law. Below is a discussion of the various laws dealing with this subject. The highlighted age refers to an age at or above which an individual can engage in unfettered sexual relations with another who is also at or above that age. Other variables, for example homosexual relations or close in age exceptions may exist and are noted when relevant.



The age of consent in Algeria is 16 [1] and "sodomy" is illegal {Article 388 of the Penal Code}. As are "homosexual acts" {Article 338} and "outrages to public decency" {Article 333}. The punishment for both the first two activities with those under 18 years of age is more severe for the older participant. (Information correct after 1985) François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from Le pot pourri de Loth (1781). ...

Cape Verde

The age of consent is 16 years for everyone since 2004[citation needed]. Worldwide age of consent laws. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Age of consent is 14 years, according to article 331 in the Criminal Law Droit francophone: Code Pénal du 17 juin 1972 mis à jour au 30 juin 1998

In certain cases, including relatives and homosexuals, it is 21 years.[citation needed]

South Africa

The age of consent in South Africa is currently 16 for heterosexual acts and current legislation dictates an age of consent of 19 for homosexual acts. This law was being reviewed beginning in 2007 (see below). There exists a common law prohibition against homosexual sex. As well as the Sexual Offences Act {ss. 14 (1) (b), 22 (f)} which prohibits sexual acts between males under the age of 19 and sexual acts between females under the age of 19. {s.14(3)(b)}

Proposed bill

During May 1996, South Africa was the first jurisdiction in the world to provide constitutional lesbian and gay rights. Clause 9.(3) disallows discrimination on race, gender, sexual orientation and other grounds. This has led to the above statutes to be considered null and void, though they are yet to be "repealed" or "revoked" officially by a court order or something corresponding. Sexual orientation describes the direction of an individuals sexuality, often in relation to their own sex or gender. ...

Under the new legislation put before the South African parliament, the age of consent will be 16 years for all;

" A person who commits an act which causes penetration with a child ... below the age of 16 years is, despite the consent of that child to the commission of such an act, guilty of the offence of having committed such an act with a child... " {§9(1) Proposed amendment to South Africa's Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill of 2003}

An exception would exist "...if a marriage existed between that person and a child referred to in this section, unless the child concerned was below the age of 12 years at the time when that offence in terms of this section was allegedly committed." {§9(7)} Further it would be a defence if the child is unrelated and it can be proved that the defendant considered the child to be over 16; or if "...the accused was a person below the age of 16 years at the time of the offence and the age of the accused did not exceed the age of such child by more than three years..." {§9(5)}

Republic of South Africa Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill (pdf format) Portable Document Format (PDF), sometimes mistaken for Printable Document Format, is an open file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 and is now being prepared for submission as an ISO standard. ...

Further reading - South Africa

  • SA-CLC Newsletter "Article 40" Jacqueline Gallinetti discusses the Bill. (Dec 2003)
  • Behind the mask - media organisation promoting gender issues in Africa. Article on South Africa.


The age of consent in Zimbabwe is 16 years for both males and females. Sodomy (heterosexual anal sex and all male homosexual acts) are illegal regardless of age - female homosexuality or lesbianism is not mentioned in the laws [2]. Having sex with a minor give rise to charges of statutory rape. Case law gives guidance to the years of imprisonment, with age difference between participants playing a role in sentencing[citation needed].


  • Same-Sex Handholding Now Illegal In Zimbabwe
  • South Africa Gay Marriages Spark Homophobic Outcry In Zimbabwe / About same-sex activity in Zimbabwe.

See also



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