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Spain set to raise sex age from 13 to 16

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Spain set to raise sex age from 13 to 16
Spain has up to recently been one of Europe’s most permissive countries regarding teenage matrimony and consensual sex. Photo: Courtney Carmody
11:24 CEST+02:00
Spain's Health Department is looking to raise the age of consensual sex from 13 — the lowest in Europe after the Vatican's 12 — to 16.

The move follows last month’s decision by Spain's health and social affairs minister Ana Mato to up the country’s marriage age from 14 to 16.

“We'll be able to fight child abuse more efficiently and we'll be on a par with the consensual sex age established in our neighbouring countries,” Mato told the Spanish Parliament’s Social Equality Commission on Wednesday.  

The reforms are part of a broad plan approved by the Spanish government to protect children from abuse and exploitation, to be funded with a budget estimated at € 5.2 billion ($6.7 billion) over the next four years.

Spain has up to recently been one of Europe's most permissive countries regarding teenage matrimony and consensual sex.

But the 2012 murder of a 13-year-old girl by her 39-year-old lover in the village of El Salobral (Albacete) sparked a debate over the minimum age of consent.

The victim's parents had already alerted police of the couple’s age gap but officers were unable to intervene because their relationship was not illegal at that stage.

Spain announced reforms in April including raising the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 16. 

Spanish legislation currently allows a child to enter into marriage with a court's permission as young as 14.

Defenders of children's rights feared that at such a young age some minors, even if only a small number, would be forced into unions.

"We welcome the measures that raise the age of marriage and the revision to the age of sexual consent," said Gabriel Gonzalez-Bueno, head of childhood policy at UNICEF Spain, in an online statement in April.

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