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Current Events and Debates For discussions and friendly debates about politics and current events, check out this forum.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 06:00 PM

I don't know if it belongs here or not. I have a really odd random question that I kind of was thinking about. But the question is back a couple hundred years ago our ancestors were marrying 12 year Old girls. It was viewed at as okay. When did it all change and why?


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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 08:10 PM

I'm going to go ahead and move this to "Current Events and Debates", since you may have better luck there.

My answer to your question is that cultures change. 5000 years ago, 12-year-old girls had to take on many responsibilities (tending to crops, livestock, bartering goods, preparing meals, etc.). As a result, they were essentially considered adults, based on what they could contribute to their family and community, and it was acceptable for them to get married.

Nowadays, 12-year-old girls (for the most part - there are some cultures where this isn't the case) don't have to take on nearly as many responsibilities. They have the "luxury" of being children for six more years. =P Because marriage is seen as something that "adults" do, in today's society (again, for the most part), it's not acceptable for teenagers to get married. They're not deemed emotionally or vocationally prepared for the traditional responsibilities of being a wife (and possibly a mother).






   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 09:10 PM

Because;
1) The moral system has changed dramatically over time
2) We live until an older age
3) There is no need

Though, I would of said 14 year old girls would of been a better example rather than 12.
   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 09:52 PM

For once people now have longer life span and life is not that easy now. Before people usually had a family business and the male in the family married and was given the family business so he could provide to his new wife and the girls in the family had to marry someone with a good last name, I don’t know if I make sense. Now people want to go to school and get better jobs, we live longer and now women can study too and do something better with their life’s they don’t have to rely on marriage.


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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 10:10 PM

Since the average lifespan has increased, marrying at such an early age is unnecessary. It was done back then mostly for that reason but in this day and age, it's not needed. Also, there are more moral and cultural differences involving age-related things, such as the introduction of pedophilia (occurred before this time but wasn't viewed as a disorder). This is done in part to protect the young, so if someone attempts to marry a 12-year old, there's a chance, depending on the actions between the bride and groom, that the older one could be charged with pedophilia or other crimes such as statutory rape. Also, children are required to attend school and most parents want their children to get higher grades, however, by performing such a marriage, it seems counter-productive because there's not really a parent-child relationship anymore. All of these changes are summarized by saying that the cultures from back then to now are different and these changes are evidence of that. Another example of cultural differences is back in ancient Greece, warriors would have sex with young children and not be punished for it because it symbolized the power difference the warrior had to his opponents. Nowadays, that's illegal and amoral.

As you can see, the cultural differences have shifted from having children treated like property or objects owned by the father (mother was the same status as children) to a more equal playing field, where children and women are not considered objects. There still is some evidence of males being favoured but less so.
   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 10:23 PM

Well, I noticed your question had two parts to it. Specifically:

1. When?
2. Why?

Well, to answer to part one. At least from an English perspective, the age was raised first to 13 in 1875 and then to 16 in 1885 where it has remained ever since.

In answer to the part two. The reason the age was increased was due to the fact that many young girls were being sold into prostitution and parliament wished to stop this.

I hope this helps.
   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 10:32 PM

I couldn't find when the age changed in the United States, but the late 1800's is about right. However, you can still get married at the age of 14(with parental consent) in the state of New York, unless that law has been changed.

Why? Well, when the child labour laws came into affect, so did marriage laws, to protect children. Parents used to sell their children if they needed the money, and the laws protected children from being married to young, or from being sold as sex slaves.


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Re: when did the legal age change - March 14th 2010, 10:43 PM

Because society changes over time.
   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 15th 2010, 02:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack View Post
Well, I noticed your question had two parts to it. Specifically:

1. When?
2. Why?

Well, to answer to part one. At least from an English perspective, the age was raised first to 13 in 1875 and then to 16 in 1885 where it has remained ever since.

In answer to the part two. The reason the age was increased was due to the fact that many young girls were being sold into prostitution and parliament wished to stop this.

I hope this helps.
I'm interested in seeing the sources, can you please link them?
   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 15th 2010, 03:00 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by !!!YOU'RE$NUCKING$FUTZ!!! View Post
I'm interested in seeing the sources, can you please link them?
1. The raise to 13 from 12 came in the form of the Offences against the Person Act 1875 and the further raise from 13 came from the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 (The abridged and slightly lacking text is HERE, the raise of the age of consent is in section 5). The 1885 act has since been repealed but the age of 16 (for heterosexual couples at least) has stood in the acts that have replaced it since most recently with the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (This act can be found: HERE). You can check wikipedia for corroboration, you could look HERE or HERE. Unfortunately a decent copy of the 1885 act doesn't seem to be on the internet, I could scan a copy of a statute book (if my uni has one that old, I would suppose they do) after my law lecture tomorrow if you would still like?

2. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, and the attatched condition of a raised age of consent was passed mainly due to the activism of William Thomas Stead who was an activist against child prositution. This can be seen in the Eliza Armstrong Case, and it was this case that reignited the debate over the age of consent and ultimately resulted in the act being passed. A quick google of W.T. Stead and Eliza Armstrong should provide any sources you should like. Similarly, a reading of even the frankly rubbish copy of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 above should make it clear how concerned with prostitution it is.

Last edited by Jack; March 15th 2010 at 03:28 AM.
   
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Re: when did the legal age change - March 15th 2010, 01:16 PM

at 16 don't you need parental consent to get married or can you marry who you want regardless?


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Re: when did the legal age change - March 15th 2010, 03:12 PM

For some reason I was reading this as the age of consent rather than the age of marriage.

To re-answer the question:

When: It was raised from 12 for a girl and 14 for a man to 16 in 1929 due to the Age of Marriage Act 1929 and the Marriage Act 1949 reaffirmed this. The Mariage Act 1949 section 2 also made void any marriage where one or both of the persons was under 16.

Why: To quote my textbook, "the choice of the age 16 in England and Wales reflects the policy of criminal law that it is unlawful for a man to have sexual intercourse with a girl under 16. It also reflects the concern of society about any children that may be born of such a union: the parents may be too young to care for the children and the burden could then fall on the state. There is also the argument that, below that age, the parties may not fully understand the consequences of marriage." Although everyone else's answers above are most likely equally valid.

And yes Ellie, currently to be married at 16 you must have written consent of each parent with parental responsibility. However, a teenager could apply to a court to have the parental consent requirement revoked or they could forge consent or somehow convince a registrar to marry them regardless. If the marriage goes ahead without parental consent it is still considered to be valid. The parental consent requirement is there to allow registrars to refuse to carry out a wedding without it.

Last edited by Jack; March 15th 2010 at 03:18 PM.
   
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