In the world’s smallest sovereign state

Vatican City’s age of consent is 12 years old.

Andrew Sullivan, who rather tastelessly headlined the story with an allusion to the South Park episode “Red Hot Catholic Love,” passed along an emailed document from the DC Italian embassy:  

Vatican State has its own criminal system based on the former Italian criminal code (called “Zanardelli Code”, issued in 1889). Art 331 (1) of this code provides that the age of consent is set at 12 years old, but according to Art. 331 (2) when there is a relationship of dependence (like teacher/student/ etc.) the age of consent is 15 years.

This law applies to criminal suspects arrested in Vatican City. Whereas, if a sexual offence occurs in Vatican State but the suspect is arrested in Italy, he/she is tried under Italian criminal law, based on Italian Criminal code called “Rocco Code”, issued in 1930. According to article 609 quarter of this code, the age of consent is set at 14 years old or 16 years old if there is a relation of dependence. There is an exception to this rule: having sexual intercourse with a partner aged 13 doesn’t constitutes a sexual offence only if the age difference between the two individuals is not more than 3 years.

It is also 12 in Angola, Phillipines, Mexico, and Zimbabwe; it is 13 in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Japan (!), Nigeria South Korea, Spain (!) and Syria. 

Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yeman have no age of consent but only require that both participants be married.

North Korean laws on the subject are unknown.


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