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(De)Criminalizing Adolescent Sex: A Rights-Based Assessment of Age of Consent Laws in Eastern and Southern Africa

Authors: Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude and Ann Skelton | Publication: SAGE Open October-December 2018: 1–12 | Country Focus: Africa

Age of consent laws, especially in their original colonial formulation deny adolescents, especially girls, sexual autonomy and agency. States focus more on punishment than on taking measures to address the structural antecedents of harms associated with sexual intercourse. States should reform age of consent laws to decriminalize consensual sex between adolescents in accordance with recognized rights of the child.

Reaching key adolescent populations

Authors: Morna Cornell and Kathryn Dovel | Publication: Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2018 May; 13(3): 274–280 | Country Focus: Africa

There has been limited success in reaching these key adolescent populations largely due to criminalization and stigma. Accurate, generalizable data are needed to inform the development of innovative strategies for holistic care.

Sexual health, human rights and the law

Authors: World Health Organization | Publication: WHO, 2015 | Country Focus: Global

International human rights bodies have increasingly called for decriminalization of access to and provision of certain sexual and reproductive health information and services…

‘‘First, do no harm’’: legal guidelines for health programmes affecting adolescents aged 10 17 who sell sex or inject drugs

Authors: Brendan Conner | Publication: Conner B. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2015, 18(Suppl 1):19437 | Country Focus: Global

As a matter of international human rights, health, juvenile justice and child protection law, interventions among adolescent KPs aged 10 17 must not involve arrest, prosecution or detention of any kind. It is imperative that interventions not rely on law enforcement, but instead low-threshold, voluntary services, shelter and support, utilizing peer-based outreach as much as possible. These services must be mobile and accessible, and permit alternatives to parental consent for the provision of life-saving support, including HIV testing, treatment and care, needle and syringe programmes, opioid substitution therapy, safe abortions, antiretroviral therapy and gender-affirming care and hormone treatment for transgender adolescents.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Sexual Health Education and the Criminalization of Teen Sexuality in the United States

Authors: Sonya Laddon Rahders | Publication: Hastings Women’s Law Journal Number 1, Winter 2015 Volume 26, Article 9 | Country Focus: USA

This note examines the ways that teen sexuality is regulated in the United States. Educational, civil and criminal law, and social systems intertwine to control teen sexuality. Moreover, voters put many of these systems in place, putting stringent restrictions on people under the age of eighteen. People who can vote are making decisions for people who cannot.

Criminalising consensual sexual activities of adolescents in South Africa

Authors: Christina Nomdo | Country Focus: South Africa

When promulgated, sections 15 and 16 of ‘Sexual Offences Act’ set the age of consent for sexual activity at 16 and makes it an offence for any person older than 16 to engage in sexual acts with children below the age of 16. The purpose of these two sections was to protect children from undue influence related to sexual engagement with adults or significantly older children.

Harm, Responsibility, Age and Consent

Authors: Belinda Carpenter*, Erin O’Brien, Sharon Hayes and Jodi Death | Publication: New Criminal Law Review, January 2014 | Country Focus: Global

This article explores the contradictory ways in which adolescents just under the age of consent are represented in illegal sexual relations with both men and women who are over the age of consent.

Harmonizing the Legal Environment for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Publication: UNFPA | Country Focus: East and Southern Africa

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is an intrinsic part of an adolescent’s development and a fundamental right for all. Yet, far too often, it is the missing piece of a puzzle in a young person’s journey from adolescence to adulthood.

Decriminalization and the U.N. Human Rights Bodies

Author: Emily Nagisa Keehn | Publication: Human Rights Program,Harvard Law School | Country Focus: Global

International and transnational human rights bodies are a significant source of new criminal norms, as national legislatures often pass or repeal laws to fulfill their State’s international obligations. This paper examines the developing jurisprudence on decriminalization at the U.N. human rights bodies, which collectively provide guidance for the development of international human rights norms.

A Guide to Using Evidence to Improve Young People’s Sexual Health and Rights

Author: Ragnar Anderson, Christine Panchaud, Susheela Singh, Katherine Watson | Publication: IPPF, 2014 | Country Focus: Global

The world’s 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10–19 account for 18% of the global population.1 While their situation differs across regions and countries, adolescents share basic rights pertaining to sexual and reproductive health, such as equality, privacy, dignity, freedom from harm and freedom to choose whether or not to marry. They also need information and services to support healthy decision making related to sexuality and reproduction.

Body Politcis: A Primer on Criminalization of sexuality and reproduction

Author: Amnesty International

Criminalization of sexual and reproductive health-related activity, in particular, stands as a significant impediment to the realization of human rights, particularly the right to health. Although such criminalization is justified by some as a “public health” measure, in most cases it exacerbates the underlying public health concern by driving risk behaviour underground and preventing the provision of effective health services; contributing to preventable illness and death. Criminalization of consensual reproductive and sexual behaviours also violates autonomy, which is the foundation on which an individual’s ability to realise their right to health is built.