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Why is child marriage legal in the West? It's the one type of slavery the West ignores

(Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)


August 12, 2021   6 mins

“New York Officially Bans Child Marriage, Only Sixth State in the U.S. to do so.” You might picture this headline on a yellowing newspaper in the archives of a public library. But in actual fact it appeared online, less than a month ago. And yes, you read it correctly. New York is only the sixth American state to ban child marriage, meaning there is still a legal pathway to marrying a minor in 44 states.

Child marriage is merely a subset of the wider problem of forced marriage, which is staggering in scale. In 2016, the International Labour Organization found that “15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage to which they had not consented”. 37% of those victims are under the age of 18, and 44% of those children were “forced to marry before the age of 15 years”. “While men and boys,” the report states, “can also be victims of forced marriage,” 88% of victims are female. That figure rises among child victims of forced marriage: 96% were girls.

For me, the subject of forced marriage is personal. When I was living in Kenya, my father arranged for me to marry a man I had never met. His name was Osman Moussa. He was 27. When we were introduced, only six days before the marriage, I found that he was bald, dim and expected me to give him six sons.

Before the nikah ceremony, which would legally wed us, I begged my father to reconsider. I had no interest in the man he had chosen for me and dreaded a lifetime with him. My father insisted and when I continued to resist, he reminded me of my place. In the end, my father married me to Osman when I wasn’t even there — which might have been an issue had my participation been a matter of concern. But the arrangement was a mere transfer of ownership from one man to the next; my presence, let alone my consent, was not required.

Fortunately for me, I was not a child when this happened. I was 22 and had the self-confidence to flee to the Netherlands to escape my future with Osman. What if I had been 15, without the wherewithal or determination to flee?

But while my story might sound exotic, forced marriages and child marriages do not occur only in far-away countries. They are happening in the West today. This April, Unchained At Last, an organisation fighting child and forced marriages in the United States, released a study that found “nearly 300,000 minors, under the age of 18, were legally married in the US between 2000 and 2018”. The victims’ religious and ethnic backgrounds varied, but the vast majority were girls. Some were as young as 10.

In the United Kingdom, the situation is hardly any better. Here, child marriage is “thriving”; according to official data, between 2008 and 2017 more than 2,740 minors were married in England and Wales — a disturbing figure which doesn’t include minors wed in traditional ceremonies or taken abroad for the ceremony. Karma Nirvana, a British charity, recently reported “it had seen a 150% increase in teenagers calling about forced marriage since lockdowns began on March 23”. They expect that figure to rise now that the UK has removed most of its Covid-19 restrictions and gatherings are allowed to take place.

It’s encouraging, then, that UK introduced a bill this year that would close the child marriage loophole, which allows 16 and 17-year-olds to marry, with their parents’ permission. Health Secretary Sajid Javid, for what it’s worth, has committed his support, stating that “child marriage is child abuse”. Meanwhile, several states in the US are also fighting to end this practice within their borders; eleven states introduced legislation this year that would ban all marriages for those under 18. (New York and Rhode Island have already succeeded.)

All this has caused me to reflect on my own experiences and the countless stories I’ve heard from women and girls who have come to my Foundation seeking to escape or prevent a forced marriage. But at the heart of each of their tragic stories lies a simple question: what constitutes a marriage?

These days, in much of the Western world, it is a legal union of two human beings in pursuit of love, companionship and personal fulfilment. It is an agreement into which both parties willingly enter and from which they may leave if the relationship breaks down. The word “marriage” conjures up ideas of romance, love, desire, but also of partnership, posterity and security.

But for those legally locked in marriages they didn’t want, the word has a very different meaning. Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained At Last, was forced into a marriage in 1995 when she was 19 years old. It quickly turned abusive. She came from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and eventually escaped her abuser, which led her family to shun her. When I asked her about it, she told me: “The day I was forced into my so-called marriage to a stranger, I lost all sexual, reproductive and financial rights. My family handed me over to the stranger for a lifetime of rape, forced motherhood and domestic servitude. What part of that sounds like a ‘marriage’?”

Naila Amin was forced into a marriage with her 28-year-old cousin when she was just 15-years-old. Her parents brought her from New York to Pakistan for the ceremony and left her there. With the help of the US State Department, she was able to escape about five months later.

“I can only explain my marriage as a gun to my head,” she told me. “I literally had no choice but to be married or die as a result. I was a prisoner in my own body. Even though it belonged to me, it wasn’t mine.”

My friend Yasmine Mohammed escaped a forced marriage to an al-Qaeda terrorist in Canada. I recently asked her on my podcast how she viewed her relationship. Did it really constitute a marriage?

“Absolutely not. The reason is because I don’t constitute a human being, so I am a thing. I am a possession that is owned by my family and I am given to him for him to now own.”

Humans beings — often young girls — treated as property. Individuals unable to leave a situation on their own accord. These descriptions call to mind another institution which also dates back to ancient times: slavery. From antiquity onwards, countless civilisations have been built upon slavery. And it still exists in many forms today, including in these so-called marriages.

Because when an adult man — whether he is in his 20s or 50s — marries an 11-year-old girl, she inevitably gains all the essential attributes of a slave: she has no real power to leave — unless she accepts total destitution, permanent ostracism, or even honour violence. She is subject to the arbitrariness and capriciousness of an authority with absolute power over her life: her husband. And she is profoundly vulnerable to physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Behind these forced marriages lie any number of dark motives. Girls may be trafficked, perhaps after false employment promises made to families living in dire poverty, perhaps after being kidnapped. Sometimes, a girl is married to satisfy a debt. Sometimes, a girl is married to solidify a certain tribal alliance. Sometimes, a girl is married to protect a family’s honour.

Sometimes, a girl is forced to marry the man who raped her because no one else will marry such a “tainted” girl. I’ve seen first-hand how families pressure women and girls into marriage. There are many possible motives, but the manipulation — and the absence of true consent — is a constant.

In cases of forced marriage, particularly where honour plays a cultural role, extreme coercion can be brought to bear to ensure compliance by one or both parties. It is true that men can also be the victims of honour violence (particularly as it pertains to sexual minorities), but in general women are the more common victims: they’re generally seen as embodying the sexual honour of their tribe and community through their perceived sexual purity. Hence the need to marry them off quickly and quietly.

“Marriage” is, of course, a misnomer for these horrific situations. For a marriage to be an ethical union between two free parties, both persons have to make the decision without duress and through the use of reason. Preventing the formation of such marriages, like ending slavery, is an imperative of decency and humanity.

Yet, this year, headlines like “Victory Against Child Marriage in New York State” contrast starkly with others, like this: “Some NC lawmakers let child marriage ban stall because they or someone they know married as minors”. In North Carolina, children as young as 14 (the legal age to marry in North Carolina if a girl is pregnant) are being forced into “marriages”.

Last month, Judy Wiegand came forward to testify for a ban of child marriages in North Carolina, recounting her own experiences of marrying in northern NC in 1996, at the age of 15. Her husband turned 18 soon after they wed and became her “guardian”. As a minor, she was not able to “go to medical appointments by herself, she needed [her husband’s] permission to be on birth control, which he denied, and she couldn’t sign for utilities, rent an apartment or get a driver’s license without his approval”.

Yesterday, the NC House considered the “SB 35” bill, which would raise the age of marriage to sixteen, with no more than a four years age difference allowed for those marrying at sixteen or seventeen. The bill passed unanimously — but despite these efforts towards progress, this bill remains inadequate. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds are still minors and also need protection, as illustrated by Judy Wiegand’s experiences above.

Indeed, it’s striking that the North Carolina House passed over their own brightline bill, HB 41, which would raise the age of marriage to 18 years old, no exceptions, to instead let the focus sit on the watered down SB 35. We would not ignore a brightline bill if it were a slavery ban that was stalling in North Carolina — or any of the other 44 states where child marriage is still legal.

So perhaps what’s needed here is a shift in terminology. To reflect what’s truly happening when a family offers up their 12-year-old daughter to a 27-year-old distant cousin — and to stop people turning a blind eye for fear of being culturally insensitive — we need to call child marriages what they are: slavery.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also the Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her Substack is called Restoration.

Ayaan

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Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago

Why is child marriage still happening in the west? Well, perhaps we should rephrase the question: why has it started up all over again? Such procedures were ironed out of western practice through the long development of European culture, culminating in the Liberalism of the twentieth century. Clearly then, child marriage has started again because it has been imported; and once imported, it has been winked at. How has it been imported? Through rates of migration which have resulted in the creation of ghettoes – elective ghettoes – in which the society of the migrant is recreated. It is an intellectual delusion to imagine that culture can be jettisoned either easily or profitably where most people are concerned. On that delusion – aloof, diagrammatic, inhuman – stands the whole “trahison des clercs” which animates today’s western elites. And because it is mistaken, we find indigenous westerners suffering from the dilution and abolition of European identity, even as newcomers – and their children – retreat into the rituals and certainties of their own deep past. Like the strategy of a first world war general, which looks good on paper but ignores terrain, multiculturalism is running into trouble – bad trouble. These insights have been exceptionally well developed in the work of Eric Kaufman and David Goodhart, whose notion of “Anywheres” and “Somewheres” makes the point in brief. The angry contempt of the “Anywheres” for their subjects is typical of those who greet details, snags, conditions and glitches with childish impatience – but these are the fabric of reality, as Burke knew so well as indeed did Powell. Those who ignore them for long enough end as Jacobins, communists and Stalinists. They wish to force developments which naturally take centuries. Low level migration is one thing. It allows for personal adaptation. But ceaseless mass migration is the short path to catastrophe.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Denis
Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I suggest you go back and re-read (or perhaps read) the article. It was referring mainly to the US where, in 44 states it is legal for a child (usually girl to be married off bytheir parents at an age where consent cannot be competently given. I suspect most of these states are rural and not remotely multicultural. There was a special election for a Senator in Alabama where it was revealed the GOP candidate had preyed on young girls and his justification was that “her parents had agreed”. Fortunately he lost.
None of your rants about “persons from nowhere” Jacobins Stalinests etc have any relevance here.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

California has no minimum age for marriage with parental consent. The minimum age in Massachusetts is 12. As you probably know, both of those states are rural deep south states dominated by knuckle-dragging Republicans.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

Better than Neanderthal Democrats.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Massachusetts is – I believe – the whitest, most liberal state in the north. California is becoming a progressive dystopia dying a slow death as capital flees to low-tax states (like mine). I was in the DMV in a rural Tennessee county last week and two of the three people in line in front of me were from California.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

He was being facetious
. Before being rude to people, you should try a dose of your own medicine: read, comprehend, contextualise, comment.

The article was about underage marriage being a form of slavery. It specifically referred to examples of this in the USA, noting that in all but a handful of States, underage marriage is legal. It further notes that if this were seen in its true light, it would be seen for what it is, slavery, and be banned without further question.

It made no specific reference to how this relates, as you have, to immigration. Yes, there are places where this has been an importation of this issue – the UK and Europe more broadly where the age of consent is 16 need to update their legislation and provide prominent examples of this issue being imported where the indigenous population have moved away from such youthful marriage.

In the USA there was no need to import Islamic practices to revive the marriage of children to adults: it has been a common place sickness in American society since the foundation of the country. It’s worth remembering too that the Pilgrims were the Taliban of their day and had similar views on the place and value of women.

So your rant, as Mikey points out, is misplaced and unwarranted in comment to the article content.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

Then “rant” is not rude? And we’re not allowed to pick up on points clearly made in the article with reference to our own countries? Or extend the principles of the article to cover related scenarios? Your pompous finger wagging is disingenuous and betokens the usual left wing flinch from the implications of Islamic migration. Why not address these issues instead of making ignorant remarks such as “the Pilgrims were the Taliban of their day and had similar views on … women.” Total nonsense. They did not allow polygamy; they did not insist on the veil; they applied notions of modesty to both women and men: Calvin, inspiration to the Pilgrims, frowned on the codpiece – as you probably don’t know. From those seeds grew female emancipation. And you can only be a “Taliban” if you are wildly out of kilter with the current state of global ethics – the Pilgrims weren’t. If you can bear to discuss these matters without supercilious condescension you might take greater pleasure in the way people reply to you.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

In the USA there was no need to import Islamic practices to revive the marriage of children to adults: it has been a common place sickness in American society since the foundation of the country.

Greg, where in America is this a common practice? There may have been a time when it wasn’t uncommon among isolated populations (in Appalachia, the rocky mountains, the northern plains) where people were married extremely young, but forced marriage has never been a widespread practice among Americans of European lineage. In fact, I’ve never heard of it. The more common practice has been for a father to stand on the front porch with a shotgun when a young suitor comes to court his underage daughter. That’s an actual thing.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

I said most

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

Please! This has nothing to do with the US culture wars. Do they have to be dragged into every single topic? There are both ‘liberal’ and conservative states with low ages of consent for marriage.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Edited.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Denis
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

I suggest you go back and peer into current reality. The author has written an entire book on the subject of diminished women’s rights in the west, thanks to migration, one of which rights is not to be married off to a cousin against her will. Your flimsy, pedantic debating points may blind you to what is going on; they have no effect on the rest of us. And in any case, whilst the article took in the American situation, its attention to the UK was clearly predicated on local migrant practice. So perhaps when or if you read the piece, you should take off the blinkers – certainly if you’re going to comment.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Denis
Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I don’t have a problem with the article itself, I may not fully agree with it but the points are well made. Your take on it was to blame the situation on muslims, which you have a right to do, but it is an ill-fitting hook onto her article, which incidentally, starts talking about New York

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Which 24 people liked that comment? Don’t encourage Twittery spasms of dull righteousness on Unherd. It’s like the last comment section on earth that hasn’t been infected by the alien virus of anonymous passive aggression.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

There are certain ethnoreligious populations in big cities where this has been a problem for some time. Even in properous suburbs there are cases of foreign-born parents making conjugal commitments for their American children. “Rural and not remotely multicultural”…hmm. Forced marriages much more common among urban/suburban and unacculturated.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Yes, but, probably not many readers care much about or likely to be affected by what happens in rural southern US state. What it does highlight is the distinction between things that sort themselves out, and things that you’ve got to watch.

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
2 years ago

Fascinating.
And also puts the current outrage about Prince Andrew and lack of outrage (from the usually perpetually outraged) about the grooming & rape gangs, into a useful context.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Brumby
mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Brumby

Andrew upset a lot of folk in his younger years, and i think this & good old fashioned schadenfreude explains why everyone is piling on, whether he is guilty or not. Not everyone is under the same laws in Britain and this means we will probably never find out. The grooming gangs were by design pretty low profile and good at customer relations in their day jobs. I think a small % of convicted “groomers” are by-catch too. If we can’t get paid, vetted people on the streets to work with and befriend runaways and street kids this will carry on.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago

Excellent article, only let down by either the author or the editor not taking the time to read it through before publication, and thus catching that same point, or sentiment, being expressed twice.
It does rather make me despair (Not the proof reading) that some, most, proclaimed feminists are so far up their own funnels, over the little, almost irrelevant, trivialities of perceived sexism, but aren’t instead out in force, marching, to end abuse, as outlined in the article above. I hadn’t really given much thought to the “oft” heard complaint that the feminist movement is too white and too middle class, but it seems that maybe they’re right, even when the participants aren’t white or middle class.

Richard Powell
Richard Powell
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

It could also usefully have been fact-checked. Sajid Javid is Health Secretary, not Home Secretary.

John K
John K
2 years ago

The word “honour” should not be used in this context, or if it must be, also put in inverted commas.
There is no honour involved; as the author says it is in reality a form of enforcement of property rights.
Power and control, the purpose of custom and religion.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  John K

I was going to write the same. Thank you.

David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago

The idea that marriage is created solely by the free consent of the spouses comes from Christian theology a canon law and is relatively “new”. Peter Lombard and Gratian independently came up with it in the 12th century. It is perhaps not surprising that immigrants from non-Christian backgrounds find the idea of the free consent of the spouses completely foreign.

John K
John K
2 years ago

Not really. The Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 was the first time married women were allowed to legally own their own property or control any aspect of their lives in “Christian” England and Wales. Unmarried or widowed women were treated differently in law.
This from Wikipedia on the situation before that date:
“English law defined the role of the wife as a feme covert, emphasizing her subordination to her husband, and putting her under the “protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord”. Upon marriage, the husband and wife became one person under the law, as the property of the wife was surrendered to her husband, and her legal identity ceased to exist. Any personal property acquired by the wife during the marriage, unless specified that it was for her own separate use, went automatically to her husband. If a woman writer had copyright before marriage, the copyright would pass to the husband afterwards, for instance. Further, a married woman was unable to draft a will or dispose of any property without her husband’s consent”

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  John K

Pedantry fuelled by wikipedia. The fact remains that in Christian culture the woman’s lot was a good deal happier than under Islam. She was at least the only legal spouse of her husband and could even exercise authority – viz, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Empress Zoe, Margaret of Parma, Elizabeth Ist, Catherine de Medici – and so on. Were there any such figures in Islamic culture? No. So the crucial Christian insistence on the mutuality of marriage is key, foundational and undeniable. Why do you think it was that the act of 1882 could be passed so smoothly? Because it entered an established stream of widening female liberty. It did not arise from nowhere; nor was it imported; it represented a development of the particular civilisation of the west – the same civilisation, incidentally, which banned the practice of hurling wives on their husbands’ funeral pyres in India.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Denis
David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago
Reply to  John K

I wrote not about women’s rights, but about the necessity of the free consent of both spouses for a valid marriage.
By the way, in late medieval England, mutual free consent was the only condition for marriage, so secret marriages were contracted and the courts decided whether a vow made in private and without witnesses was valid or not – sometimes it depended on grammatical form (whether the present tense or the future tense was used).

David Wildgoose
David Wildgoose
2 years ago
Reply to  John K

Not true. In Anglo-Saxon England prior to the brutal invasion and oppression by the Normans, the “bride-price” was paid to the bride for her own independence, and Anglo-Saxon law specifically protected wives and widows.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

Historically, the Danelaw portion of the island continued to express cultural differences in women’s rights, and interestingly those of the Thirteen Colonies whose settlers originated mainly from those counties, embodied in their state laws superior protection of womens rights.

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

Excellent article that’s need wider broadcasting. The writer is a true feminist (I hate the label anyway). She writes stuff that’s total inconvenient for the left wokery.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  T Doyle

Why is what she writes inconvenient for left wokery?

David Wildgoose
David Wildgoose
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Why not ask them? After all, they pretty much drove her out of the Netherlands.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

The comments about this article are interesting. Reason, most are written by men. To the point of telling women how to protest about this making it solely a women’s issue.

It is a humanitarian issue which should be raised by everyone who is literate. Write to the UN. Write to your MP. if in a devolved country, write to your MSP. Write to the press in the USA. if enough people do it, something will have to be done.

And it is something that happens in orthodox Christian religions too. It is not just a Jewish. Muslim, Hindu practice. It happens all over the US. Girls as young as 14 are married to old men. In the UK, girls of 16 are married to pay debts, give prestige to families – who if you asked them would say they are Roman Catholic or at least Christian. Then there is the forced marriage to stop a Catholic marrying a Protestant or vice versa which continues to this day in many places in the UK.

As I said at the start, this is a humanitarian issue, not just a woman’s issue and instead of writing comments on here, maybe you should be writing to the politicians. I did and continue to do so on a regular basis.

David B
David B
2 years ago

NB: Sajid Javid is Health Minister. The Home Secretary is Priti Patel.

David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago

The answer to the article’s question, at least in the United States, lies in the fact that laws governing age of marriage and age of sexual consent are bound together in legal tradition. Raising the age of marriage goes hand in hand with raising the age of sexual consent in the American mind. They are to some extent being decoupled with recent legislation tightening definition of statutory rape in many states, but even this often includes “Romeo and Juliette” exceptions for sexual activity between persons close in age (quite sensible in my view: It is absurd for a 15 year old and 16 year old exploring their sexuality to both be guilty of statutory rape. If a society wants to go that route, it would be more honest to pass laws against fornication). In America, at least, it was with a view to the reality of teenage sexuality that laws allowing marriage before the age of majority existed, so that a young man could “do the right thing” and marry a girl he impregnated and be a proper father to the child, or better yet, so the young couple could easily “save themselves for marriage” and marry before sexual activity. This worked quite well when it was possible to live an economically successful life on the basis of an eight-grade education (still the age at which the Amish leave school) and in the 19th century, often both newlyweds were “children” in the terms of our early 21st century Western sensibilities.

elspeth mcveigh
elspeth mcveigh
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

In Scotland, marriage at the age of 16 is still legal.
I was forced, by an abusive father, to marry a man ( his friend) ten years older – who I had been passed on to at the age of 12.
Please do not for a moment , think that this is still not going on – although this was in the 1960’s.
Think of Rotherham and weep …

Angelique Todesco-Bond
Angelique Todesco-Bond
2 years ago

I am so sorry Elspeth, I hope your life went on to be better. Violence against women, in whatever guise, sexual, independence, control, is a cancer that is so much more widespread than we can possibly imagine.
Many years ago, whilst sobbing about a breakup my father sat me down and said “Do you know how lucky you are, you are probably one of the worlds 10% truly free women, you are single, you have a flat and a job and do what you want, when you want”. I never forgot those words and I thank my lucky stars every day that I was born to such good fortune.

Last edited 2 years ago by Angelique Todesco-Bond
Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

Unaddressed in the very good essay are the cases in which the girl and boy are underage, but the girl has gotten pregnant. Both may truly wish to marry. In that case, it would seem reasonable to be allowed to do so, as there are no good alternatives. I expect this would have to be handled in Juvenile Court

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago

Spain and maybe other European countries till very recently, had no,age of consent. In France it was fourteen. I cannot see that trying to reduce marriage of 16 or 17 year olds is anything to do with child marriage. A female child is either pre pubescent or one or two years post pubescent. Then she is a teenager. The article conflates forced marriage at any age with marriage under the age of, what, 18?

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Too true – works OK in Spain – i’ve heard it explained thus – 2 teenagers at it in the bushes is a nuisance but not illegal, two 36 year olds is also legal unless only ONE of them has Down’s syndrome.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Or if one of them is married, in which case it could well prove fatal.

Paula Williams
Paula Williams
2 years ago

Because of woke pandering to diversity.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

Not sure where they get the stats from – they seem wrong. 15m forced marriages per c3.8bn women is less than 0.01% so i expect a massive underestimate. Include other non consensual common law relationships, daughters kept at home or prevented from marrying their chosen partner etc. I guess x20 would be more accurate. There are 15m forced coital acts against women and girls under 24 pa according to the UN. Sadly you’d have thought these would outnumber forced marriages. The use of 15m must correspond to a figure big enough to scare yet not unimaginable and small enough to assume you’ll never meet such an unlucky person. Which is odd, as most of us know at least 1 woman who’s unwanted attention in the last 40 years or so. IE at least 50% of women. So the accuracy of the stats is at least the size of a pinhead BUT not an area of the size of Wales. I think this reduces the value of the article. Forced marriage and worse is not a trivial matter and to under-estimate it like this is bad news if you are in a forced marriage or getting unwwanted physical attention.

Last edited 2 years ago by mike otter
William MacDougall
William MacDougall
2 years ago

Obviously the marriage of a 12 year old should not be allowed, however forced, nor any marriage without the participation of both parties. But a consenting 17 year old marrying with the added protection of the agreement of her parents is not “child marriage” let alone “slavery”. Your prohibitions are too broad and confuse the issues at stake.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

It was my reading that the “slavery” issue came in where the marriage was to be lived in a foreign country without civil rights, or the women was embedded in a cultural milieu that enforced their ethnic customs over the laws of a modern country. “Modern” can be patchy at best. In the 1970s in the Philippines, a woman technically could not get a hysterectomy without her husband’s consent, because her organs of generation belonged to him!

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

And I thought she was talking about US marriage laws. The article confuses issues.