The laws may also vary by the type of sexual act, the gender of the participants or other considerations, such as involving a position of trust; some jurisdictions may also make allowances for minors engaged in sexual acts with each other, rather than a single age.Charges and penalties resulting from a breach of these laws may range from a misdemeanor, such as corruption of a minor, to what is popularly called statutory rape (which is considered equivalent to rape, both in severity and sentencing).Generally, a law will instead establish the age below which it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with that person.
Sensational media revelations about the scourge of child prostitution in London in the 1880s then caused outrage among the respectable middle-classes, leading to pressure for the age of consent to be raised again.
The first French Constitution of 1791 established the minimum age at 11 years.
Portugal, Spain, Denmark and the Swiss cantons initially set the minimum age at 10–12 years.
In traditional societies, the age of consent for a sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom.
In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman, and pubic hair for a man.