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What is the correct age for sexual and marital consent for a girl?

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Vendetta, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. Vendetta

    Vendetta "Oscar the grouch"

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    In another thread concerning Muhammad the subject of consent was brought up and I thought, without specifically attacking or arguing over this religious figure we could discuss the idea of consent. Let me start by saying that there are cultural variables to consider when discussing the issue of consent. For some cultures it is when the girl starts menstrual cycle (well for most cultures) but I also understand that there are some that may see the physical development of young girls bodies as indication of transitioning to womanhood.

    I argue that a young girls menstrual cycle is no psychological indication that she is prepared. Simply because a young girls body tells her she is able to have children doesn't.mean she is ready. After all I've seen as young as 11 start their period yet their mindset is more often comparable to a grad school child. I know times have changed and yes back in the days older men were with very young children and for some reason we seem to attack a specific religion.

    For example Mary the mother of Jesus was said to be 14 at the time of conception. Yet religions of Mary show her as an older woman why is that? Mary wasn't a woman by modern standards yet apparently had the maturity of an older woman since, she took on the divine task of giving birth to Jesus. But I am nonetheless curious what others think.
     
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  2. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    18 appears to be a good age. Most of us are reasonably mature by then.
     
  3. Rakhel

    Rakhel Honey badger.

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    You haven't heard the latest reports. Girls as young as 7 are getting their periods. But I do agree. Menstruating is in no way a means by which to judge maturity and sexual consent.
     
  4. TheKnight

    TheKnight Guardian of Life

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    It really depends on the culture. In our culture we baby people and treat them like childish idiots until their 18 and that even goes on for a while longer until they're 21. Then we expect them to be able to fully take hold of all the world has to offer and be prepared for whatever the world throws at them.

    We prolong childhood by being overly ridiculous in our view of what a person's life should look like.

    I think we need to take a firm look at how we bring up our young before this can be considered. Obviously the longer a person is treated like a child and expected to have little or no responsibility, the less psychologically prepared he or she will be for any intense emotional experience, good or bad.

    Not to mention that we should really ask why the government is so involved in sexual activity that there must be legislation regarding when someone can give consent to something as personal and private as sex? I find that extremely ironic.
     
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  5. Alex_G

    Alex_G Enlightner of the Senses

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    Consent is an interesting subject.

    Girls have their period around 12 years of age on average, but the process of puberty spans a few years, and there is a lag before ovulation becomes regular and mature as a process.

    I think however this is quite irrelevant to the idea of consent. Consent is something that honours the right to autonomy of a conscious being, and valid consent requires competence on the part of the individual to understand and retain the relevant information allowing a truly informed decision to be made. So when talking about consent we are talking about the mind of the person rather than bodily functions. Whether a girl is physiologically able to get pregnant or not is irrelevant to it, otherwise one might consider a woman who is amenorrheic (doesn’t have periods) to be unable to consent to sexual activity, which is absurd. (many conditions can cause you to not have periods, and genetic causes are usually responsible for never having a period from the word go).

    As for consent, i think it is entirely an individual thing. Some people can be younger and be able to validly consent, whereas others will be much older. Mental health and learning difficulties is something that poses many difficulties here.

    Of course the law states the cut off, and it must draw a line in the sand somewhere, but realistically you might get a 15year old who is much more competent at making such a decision than a 17 or 18 year old.


    In medicine, with regards to treatment, you can as a doctor, if you feel that the child that has come to you with a medical problem is able to grasp and understand the relevant information surrounding it and the treatment available, you can consider them 'Gillick competent' and treat them without informing the parents. The term 'Gillick competent' is from a legal case back in the 1980's.

    I think it illustrates how, with respects to consent, and with respects to a fixed arbitrary cut off, one must philosophically be aware that there are no absolutes in this world, and that valid consent revolves around an individual’s ability to absorb, understand and retain the relevant information regarding a specific situation, to which they then may be in a position to make an informed decision.

    Now, as for how consent can be effectively communicated is another problem!

    Alex
     
    #5 Alex_G, Apr 20, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
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  6. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    The right age for an individual depends entirely on that individual, the other person (or people) involved and the general circumstance. That's not a lot of help in determining an appropriate legal age of consent, which is quite a different question. I honestly don't know the answer to be honest, though around 16 to 18 with some account taken for nominally consensual sex between two teenagers seems to be the least worst option.

    One thing I'm quite clear on is that the (apparent) age of Mary or Mohammed's wives should have absolutely zero influence on either question.

    I am interested why you only ask about age of consent for girls? Do you not think it's as important a question for boys too?
     
  7. Bismillah

    Bismillah Submit

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    Whenever a girl matures but I agree with skwim that around 18 is the general time when a person becomes more independent and ready to start a family.
     
  8. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    Honestly, I'd say between 16 to 18, with a preference for the latter.
    And preferably not to someone horribly older. A girl I know of from school had an arranged marriage at 16 (I think) to a guy who was like, 35 or something years older than her. I find that um... pretty gross, personally.

    She left him after a year or two, though.
     
  9. Bismillah

    Bismillah Submit

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    That is not "marital consent" :)
     
  10. Vendetta

    Vendetta "Oscar the grouch"

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    Very thought provokin response but, as far as prolonging childhood do you really think its apart of Jewish culture, or its just individual families you know that do that?
     
  11. Vendetta

    Vendetta "Oscar the grouch"

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    Yeah I've heard about that. For me, youngest parent I've seen was 11
     
  12. Vendetta

    Vendetta "Oscar the grouch"

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    As Bismillah brought it up what of consent to marry for a young girl? Sure consent to sex is one thing but what of marriage? Are their any laws that specifically address an age here in the US?
     
  13. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    Technically it was; it wasn't an arranged forced marriage, but an arranged marriage.
    Turns out the guy was a pig though. :p
     
  14. Vendetta

    Vendetta "Oscar the grouch"

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    Alex very excellent point and along the same lines as my own opinion. I am familiar with Gillick competence as we follow that in the emergency department and labor and delivery. I too, also believe that maturity is more psychological, and social and the assessment of maturity to consent much depends on the individual, including social status.
     
  15. Songbird

    Songbird She rules her life like a bird in flight

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    Great question, and I agree with everyone here that menstruation doesn't indicate maturity in any way but physically - and even that is not a good indicator. Complications from childbirth are highest in girls under the age of 19 because their bodies aren't ready for it.

    Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death in teenage girls in developing countries

    I think the mid-twenties is generally the time our brains and bodies are developed enough to make complicated life decisions, but I don't know what a firm minimum age should be....20 for marriage?
     
  16. Rakhel

    Rakhel Honey badger.

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    9. A friend of mine was molested by her step-father. Apparently, because of the laws at that time(20 years ago) the guy couldn't or wouldn't be brought up on child abuse. because, technically, she wasn't his daughter Though to be fair, that particular town's CPS refused to remove kids from abusive homes(but that is another story).
     
  17. Vendetta

    Vendetta "Oscar the grouch"

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    Wait.....you're saying she was 9 years old pregnant?
     
  18. Rakhel

    Rakhel Honey badger.

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    yeah. She was 9. Her parents were trying to convince her to give the baby to a friend of theirs. Trying to keep it off the radar. I don't know what happened to the kid or if she even carried it to full term. We moved shortly after that.
     
  19. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    I think the Model Penal Code handles this issue pretty well. Sexual intercourse with another person is a crime, regardless of consent if:

    So it's a combination of age and the accused being either significantly older or in a special position of responsibility for the minor.

    If an 18-year old and a 16-year old have sex, it is not an offense. If a 35-year old and a 9-year old have sex, it is.
     
  20. Rakhel

    Rakhel Honey badger.

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    if they choose to prosecute.
     
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