Social Question

jca2's avatar

Do you think child marriage should be legal in the US?

Asked by jca2 (12712points) June 20th, 2021
36 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Cut and pasted from the NY Times:
“Girls as young as 10 are occasionally married quite legally in the United States. Nine states have established no absolute minimum age for marriage.

A study this year found that nearly 300,000 children — meaning age 17 and under — were married in the United States from 2000 to 2018. An overwhelming majority were 16— or 17— year-old girls, on average marrying a man four years older. But more than 1,000 were 14 or younger, and five were only 10 years old. Some were wed to people far older.”

Would you be in favor of the minimum age for marriage being increased in the US?

I could see the logic of a 17 year old getting married (although my personal opinion is that it’s too young, but I could see it), I don’t see the logic of a 10 year old or a 14 year old, or even a 15 or 16 year old getting married.

According to the NY Times article, there are 45 states in the US where marriage of a minor (17 or under child) is still legal.

I googled and found this:

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canidmajor's avatar

No. Absolutely not.

kritiper's avatar

If it’s legal then I guess it’s okay.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. Minimum age should be 35~.

filmfann's avatar

When my parents married, she was 16 and he was 18. Their marriage lasted until his death 35 years later. I don’t believe this is common.
14 is too damn young. I can’t imagine a parent consenting to a 10 year old getting married.
So, due to my parents, I will say 16 should be allowed with parental consent, but no younger.
kids at that age have brain chemistry issues. They are brain damaged.

Demosthenes's avatar

I would be in favor of limiting the age to 18 with room for reasonable exceptions for a 17-year-old who wants to marry an 18-year-old (I feel the same way about age of consent laws. An 18-year-old who has sex with a 17-year-old shouldn’t be considered a sex offender).

The fact that most of these instances involve young girls marrying older men illustrates the problem for me.

Zaku's avatar

Seems to me it might be reasonable to limit it to the age of consent…

KNOWITALL's avatar

Are the young ones religious exemptions?
Even then, I’d be leery of anything under 18 myself.

lastexit's avatar

Absolutely not. 17 maybe, but no younger. They are children, not fully mature adults with the thought processes to make their own decisions. Does the child have any real say in this? I find it hard to believe that a 10 year old girl would consent to being married without her parents pushing her into it. Does anybody really think a 10 year old is ready for the responsibilities of marriage? For sex? I find it absolutely disgusting. Let children be children.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Definitely not.
A child has not the maturity to enter willingly into a marriage with an adult and nor anyone yet.
First love is usually the infatuation stage, but with an innocent child it should be regarded as a perverter who will trap that child in a life of servitude .
Something is wrong with a Society that allows children to be taken advantage of.
This is old archaic ideas that stem from the beginning of time and should be outlawed.

JLeslie's avatar

I probably could go along with as young as 16 if the courts have granted emancipation to the person, but I think marriage before age 22 is generally a bad idea. Before 18 I might even say a judge should have to approve it even if the person is emancipated. I’d want to make sure it isn’t a situation where the other person is much older and have some third party looking at the history and intention of the person.

Under 16 is insane and horrible in US society today. It’s very different navigating society now compared to 100 years ago.

smudges's avatar

You asked 2 questions, so:

No, child marriage shouldn’t be legal.

Yes, I’d be in favor of the minimum age for marriage being increased. Personally, if it ever came up, I’d vote for the age of majority being raised to 21 in all states. Most experts agree that the brain isn’t even finished maturing until age 24 or 25.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Interesting. No one is discussing 13 year old boys (children) being married off to 45 year old women.

canidmajor's avatar

@Dutchess_III only two people on this thread mentioned gender/sex, and both as secondary points.

gorillapaws's avatar

I haven’t put much thought into this one. I’m inclined to agree with @JLeslie‘s thoughts.

From the data in the OP, 0.3% of the underage marriages were between people under the age of 14. That seems like the most concerning and also very uncommon. As such, tightening up those restrictions seems prudent and wouldn’t impact the more common cases where you have people within a few years of age marrying each other. I think those instances are probably bad ideas, but I’m not comfortable trying to make things illegal just because I think it’s got a high chance of ending in divorce (i.e. permissible but ill-advised).

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s not the divorce rate that concerns me. It’s the psychological impact on the kids.

snowberry's avatar

Absolutely not!

I’ve heard of many cultures that marry little girls off as soon as they have their first menstrual cycle (normally to old men). This means they’ll be part of a polygamous marriage, but I’ve never heard of little boys being married off to older women.

No little girl would choose to marry at that age. It’s always arranged by the adults in her life. Some (most?) of the “brides” are sold to become wives (or sex slaves in my opinion).

There’s a high price for any society that marries little girls too young. When the girls become pregnant, their immature bodies have a difficult time with the pregnancy. There’s a higher risk for adolescent pregnancy.

“Adolescent mothers (ages 10–19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections than women aged 20 to 24 years, and babies of adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions.”

seawulf575's avatar

I have several thoughts. On the topic of juvenile marriage, I am of the frame of mind that it should be an adult decision…not for juveniles.

However, I look at some of the answers and when we have had conversations about providing birth control OTC for girls as young as 12, I heard many responses that they are going to have sex anyway so we might as well give them the means to keep from getting pregnant. Many of the same people that were all for that are saying that young people should be allowed to be married. So having having sex as a minor is okay, but getting married isn’t. Can someone explain the dichotomy here?

Demosthenes's avatar

I can’t speak for everyone, but my problem isn’t with minors getting married per se (whatever I may think of it personally) but with minors marrying adults.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@seawulf575….It’s not all about the sex. There is too much responsibility that comes with marriage. Kids can’t handle that.

sorry's avatar

Should someone mention to seawulf that folks don’t have to be married to have sex?

snowberry's avatar

@sorry The original question was about child marriage as young as age 10. SO, marriage is part of this discussion.

Patty_Melt's avatar

An almost unanimous consensus on a fluther question!
I agree with @smudges about a nationwide age of consent being 21.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@seawulf575 Neither is ok. And both child marriage and sex with a minor are usually held illegal. But denial of birth control to sexually active individuals is STUPID, regardless of whether they are criminals.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think anyone mentioned pregnant teenagers and maybe being expected to get married. They consented to have sex, and there is no rape issue, but maybe there is an expectation in some circles that now the teens are supposed to get married. When I first read the Q I thought of a few scenarios:

A teenage couple that is simply naive and want to get married.

A teenager being coerced into marrying a much older person, either someone who they think they love, or someone who they are forced to marry.

Or, a situation where a teenager is in a really horrible family situation, and marrying their SO will get them out of their bad circumstance.

Remember that show Reba? Was her daughter int he show under 18?

sorry's avatar

Two sixteen year olds can legally have sex together without being married. See: Age of consent. Conditions may vary on geographic location. Puritanical attitudes and bad laws regarding ‘healthcare’ benefits can force people to get married against their better judgement. It is a result of a poorly organised society that treats some people as property and that disregards human rights.

sorry's avatar

@JLeslie I watched a show about underage brides that highlighted many of the very bad situations, but then they looked at one teenage couple that got married because her parents were in a bitter custody battle and she didn’t want to move out of the state her father was in (I think it was Texas) and have to move to live with her mom, as a court ordered. She could circumvent the judge’s order if she was married, so she promptly did. They both lived with her father in what looked like a nice big house and they interviewed the newlyweds. They clearly knew what they were doing and were making plans and had goals together. I’d say that’s the exception and not the rule. Also, judges and a court system that don’t treat 15 plus year olds as young adults are not helping any of these situations. The US has a habit of infantilising young people. (edit… I didn’t realise but all you have to do is go to YouTube and search ‘Child brides in America’ and you get a long list of documentaries from reputable sources.)

JLeslie's avatar

@sorry I completely agree it is an exception not the rule, but I’m just giving room for the exception.

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III So is it your view that having sex can be completely irresponsible and suitable for minors? I mean why not, right? After all, old enough to bleed, old enough for me…right?

stanleybmanly's avatar

It amazes me that you don’t yet understand that most sex is in one way or another irresponsible. You have the oddest functioning mind I have yet to come across. If I buy a fire extinguisher, you will tell me I am encouraging the kids to play with matches.

snowberry's avatar

This question started out about child brides, and some are as young as 10 years old. This means a girl that age has been “married” to a pedophile. It totally makes sense to give her birth control! Makes it easier on both her and her rapist!

So, would you give birth control to a 10 year old under these circumstances?

JLeslie's avatar

Doubtful anyone who will marry off a 10 year old will supply her with birth control. They don’t care about her, whether she gets pregnant, whether she is forced to have an abortion or forced to have the baby. No one who will have sex with a 10 year old is thinking of her as an actual person with her own mind, they are treating her like cattle. She is a slave, a prisoner. Seems like the BC is a nonissue. The question is not who will give the girl BC pills, but rather, who is going to get the girl out of there!

snowberry's avatar

^^ Yep I agree completely.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Hilarious question.

I don’t think it should be legal for ADULTS to marry unless they undergo mandatory training and legal counseling.

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