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Narrowly concerned with sexual violence, and with girls, originally, since the 19th century the age of consent has occupied a central place in debates over the nature of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and been drawn into campaigns against prostitution and child marriage, struggles to achieve gender and sexual equality, and the response to teenage pregnancy.
In 20 nearly twice as many green cards were issued to spouses of American citizens than for all employment-based immigration categories combined.
Jurist Sir Matthew Hale argued that the age of consent applied to 10- and 11-year-old girls, but most of England's North American colonies adopted the younger age.
A small group of Italian and German states that introduced an age of consent in the 16th century also employed 12 years.
An age of consent statute first appeared in secular law in 1275 in England as part of the rape law.
The statute, Westminster 1, made it a misdemeanor to "ravish" a "maiden within age," whether with or without her consent.