Why lowering the age of consent to sexual and reproductive health services is beneficial for adolescents’ health and wellbeing

Policy Engagement and Communications

  • October 2022
  • Briefing Papers

Age of consent laws enacted to protect children from different forms of abuse 1-4. The minimum age of consent to sex law, for example, is meant to protect minors from sexual exploitation, abuse, and the adverse effects of early sexual activities on their health and wellbeing 1-4. This law is premised on the assumption that age and experience create a power imbalance that disadvantages minors 5, making it impossible for them to give informed consent 6. Until recently, people view the age of consent laws as protective and beneficial. However, with increasing recognition of adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health challenges, many have begun questioning if the age of consent laws hinder or improve access to sexual and reproductive health services.