Ask Bish – If I’m 16 and she’s 15 is it against the law?

Whether under age sex against the law is different to what actually happens. I explain more here.

 

I have been with my girlfriend for about 8 months (we are both 15) and have started to have consensual and protected sex. I know you have said it is highly unlikely that any underage consented sex involving people of similar ages would be prosecuted, but what will happen when I turn 16 and she is still 15? Would this be considered statutory rape? And if so, would I be prosecuted if we were found out? Thanks for the unbiased and informative advice, it’s truly been very helpful.

Hiya. Thanks for the nice thing you said. That’s great to hear.

Thanks for your question too. I like questions.

So there’s a difference between what the law says about sex under 16 and what actually happens in practice.

The law (Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.9 – s.13) says that you can’t have sexual activity with someone under the age of 16. She’s having sex with a 15 year old and so are you so you are both breaking the law. When you turn 16 it will just be you breaking the law because she’ll be having sex with someone is 16 and you’ll be having sex with someone who is 15. You can be guilty of these offences even if you are under 18 although the penalties for people found guilty of this are more serious for over 18s (s.13).

That’s what the law says, but this is what the Crown Prosecution Service says about what actually happens in practice:

“children of the same or similar age are highly unlikely to be prosecuted for engaging in sexual activity, where the activity is mutually agreed and there is no abuse or exploitation.” (quote taken from here)

So, from what you’ve said, it sounds like it would be highly unlikely for you to be prosecuted, even though you’ll be the only person breaking the law. Young people your age are sometimes prosecuted for these offences but only in cases of abuse, non-consent, coercion, abuse of power, big age gaps, bullying or harassment. So long as your relationship isn’t any of those things then the police won’t press charges.

I hope that gives you the information you need.

You might want to maybe chat with each other about this? Perhaps you could both read this response together?

Also do you chat to your parents/carers about your relationship? Parents react in different ways to hearing that their kids are in sexual relationships but mostly they are pretty supportive (in my experience).

Hope this helps.

Justin

 


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