The close-in-age exemption also referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet” law or the age of consent defence, is a legal provision that allows for consensual sexual relationships between individuals who belong to similar age brackets, even if one or both of them are below the age of consent which can be 18 or 21 depending on the country or area of jurisdiction.
It can also be viewed as statutory regulations put into place to protect teens from being considered sexual offenders or facing persecution for involving in sexual activities with a partner that is within the stipulated age bracket law considered to be below adulthood. Such age brackets are usually put within two or three years difference.
It’s important to note that the exact details of the close-in-age exemptions can differ significantly depending on the jurisdiction or place you reside. The specific age ranges, terms, and conditions for the exemption may differ from one country or state to another. Therefore, it is important to consult the laws of your particular jurisdiction for accurate and up-to-date information.
What is the close-in-age exemption in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, there are no close-in-age or Romeo and Juliet laws. No piece of legislation has ever been made concerning close-in-age exemption. Instead, sexual activities between two non-adults are perceived to be morally and generally unacceptable. This is especially so if they are unmarried.
By implication, if an eighteen years old engage in sexual activity with a child that is seventeen years old he or she commits a crime that is punishable by life imprisonment. It is considered to be a violation of the age of consent. No piece of legislation protects this category of individuals from being tagged, as sexual convicts. Thus, engaging in this comes with a risk of conviction regardless of the age difference.
It is important to note, the law in Nigeria doesn’t recognise any consent that is given by individuals below the age of eighteen as they are considered minors. Moreso, the law doesn’t recognise the ignorance of a potential offender on what the real age of the minor is especially if it has been proven he or she is below the statutory age of consent.
Importance or why do some countries put in place the close-in-age exemption?
The close-in-age exemption generally applies when both partners are within a certain age range, often referred to as a “close-in-age differential” or “age of consent differential.” The specific age ranges and terms used can differ between countries or states.
For example, a common provision may be that if the age difference between the two individuals is less than a specified number of years, usually three to five years, then the relationship is exempted or protected from prosecution.
The intention behind close-in-age exemptions is to avoid criminalizing mutually consensual relationships between young individuals who are relatively close in age and maturity. These exemptions acknowledge that such relationships may occur during adolescence and early adulthood, where peer relationships and exploration of romantic and sexual interests are common.
It is important to understand that the age of consent commonly referred to in the subject of consent is the age of consent to an adult. Relationships between those consider minor are regulated through the Romeo and Juliet laws