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Encyclopedia > Ages of consent in South America

The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across South America. 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.

Contents


Argentina

The age of consent in Argentina is 16 Argentine Penal Code Article 120 (in Spanish). Charges can only be brought after a complaint by the minor, their parent or guardian - Argentine Penal Code Article 72. However there is a further Argentine law, 'Corruption of minors', which can bring charges to those manipulating minors below the age of 18 into having sexual relations - Argentine Penal Code Article 125 (in Spanish). (Updated 5th March 2006 - note this information may be unreliable as it is interpreted from the Spanish Statutes)


Brazil

The age of consent in Brazil is 14 (see Brazilian Penal Code (in Portuguese), article 224, “a”), although charges can be brought for “corruption of minors” between the ages of 14 and 18. Such charges, however, can only be brought after a complaint by the minor or by a parent (article 225 of the Penal Code).


Sex with minors below the age of 14 is the equivalent of statutory rape and is punished with higher penalties. Formally, charges in this case can also only be brought after a complaint by a parent. Nevertheless, since the approval of the Code of Minors in 1990 (called the Child and Adolescent Statute - see text in Portuguese) authorities bring cases to Justice based on the legal definition of child (anyone below 12) included in the Statute (article 2nd). Charges of sex with adolescents (anyone between 12 and 17) remain under parental initiative. The term statutory rape is used when national and/or regional governments, citing an interest in protecting minors, consider people under a certain age to be unable to give informed consent, and therefore consider sexual contact with them to be a felony regardless of their stated consent. ...


As an exception, the State can prosecute the offender when the minor is at any age below 18, but only when the family of the minor is so poor that they can’t afford a lawsuit (Penal Code, article 225, I) or when the offender is the father, mother, stepfather, stepmother or legal guardian of the minor (Penal Code, article 225, II) .


The prostitution of minors is severely punished by law and is prosecuted by the State (see Code of Minors, article 244-A – in Portuguese).


The law makes no distinctions between heterosexual or homosexual cases, although below the age of 14 the name of the crime changes in homosexual cases from statutory rape (Penal Code, article 213) to "violent indecent assault" (article 214), with the same penalties. The term statutory rape is used when national and/or regional governments, citing an interest in protecting minors, consider people under a certain age to be unable to give informed consent, and therefore consider sexual contact with them to be a felony regardless of their stated consent. ... Indecent assault is a form of sex crime in many jurisdictions. ...


In any case, only individuals over 18 can be legally charged.


History

The present age of consent laws are valid since 1940. On March 2005, the crime of seduction of minors was abolished by the Brazilian Congress. It was applicable only when the victim was a virgin woman between 14 and 18 and was cumulative with corruption of minors (which still exists). In this same occasion, Congress approved the end of two former legal exceptions, by which all charges would be lifted if the offender and the minor wanted to marry, or if the minor married to someone else and didn't manifest intention for sixty days of continuing with the lawsuit.


Chile

The current age of consent in Chile is 14 years old for heterosexual activity (Art. 362 Chilean Penal Code). Even when not clearly stated in Article 362, later on, in Article 365, homosexual activity is declared illegal with anyone under 18 years old. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Heterosexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by esthetic attraction, romantic love or sexual desire exclusively for members of the opposite sex or gender, contrasted with homosexuality and distinguished from bisexuality and asexuality. ... Since its coinage, the word homosexuality has acquired multiple meanings. ...


There also exists in the Chilean Penal Code, a legal figure called estupro. This figure establishes some limitations to sexual contacts with children older than 14 and younger than 18 years old. The estupro legislation (Article 363) defines four situations in which sex with such a children can be declared illegal even if the minor consented to the relationship (non-consensual sex with anyone older than 14 y.o. falls under the rape legislation, Article 361; while any sexual contact with anyone under 14 y.o. falls under the statutory rape legislation, Article 362.): It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Criminal Code. ...

  • When one takes advantage of a mental anomaly or perturbation of the child, even if transitory.
  • When one takes advantage of a dependency or subordinate relationship of the child, like in cases when the aggressor is in charge of the custody, education or caretaking of the child, or when there exists a laboral relationship with the child.
  • When one takes advantage of severely neglected children.
  • When one takes advantage of the sexual ignorance or inexperience of the child.

The sexual acts regulated by Articles 361 (rape), 362 (statutory rape), 363 (estupro) and 365 (homosexual sex) are defined as "carnal access" (acceso carnal) which means either oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. Other articles within the penal code regulate other sexual interactions (Articles 365 bis, 366, 366 bis, 366 ter, 366 quater). Article 365 bis, regulates the "introduction of objects" either in the anus, vagina or mouth. Article 366 bis, defines "sexual act" as any relevant act with sexual significance accomplished by physical contact with the victim, or affecting the victim's genitals, anus or mouth even when no physical contact occured.


Article 369, states that charges relating to these offenses (Articles 361 to 365) can only be brought after a complaint by the minor, their parent or guardian or legal representative. Nevertheless, if the offended party cannot freely file the complaint and if he or she lacks a legal representative, parent of guardian, or if the legal representative, parent or guardian is involved in the crime, the Public Ministry may proceed by its own.


Guyana

Currently the age of consent in Guyana is 13, however legislation to raise the age to 16 is under discussion.


Uruguay

The age of consent in Uruguay stands at 15. However, under certain circumstances it is set at 12 - Uruguayan Penal Code Articles 272 and 267. Uruguay also has a 'Corruption of minors' law, which can bring charges to those manipulating minors below the age of18 into having sexual relations - Uruguayan Penal Code Article 274.


 
 

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