In our country, up until the middle of the 20th century, by the time a girl celebrated her 16th birthday, she was likely married and probably had at least one child. Obviously the belief was that rather than letting teenage hormones take them down forbidden paths, marriage would be the more appropriate soil for their oats to be sowed.
We do need to get our heads around the fact that some form of sexual exploration is inevitable during the post-pubertal period, whether we set the age of consent at 16, 18 or any other number. I do appreciate that for a variety of reasons, both legal and social, we do need to define an age of consent. And, I am pragmatic enough to realise that whatever age is chosen, it will always be an arbitrary number. For, it’s not as if on one’s 16th or 18th birthday one is possessed of a sudden maturity to take decisions that one was incapable of the previous day. However, if we teach our adolescents how to respect their sexual dignity as well as that of others, then consent can be much more informed than it currently is.