Just for a little perspective on the whole debate about what other cultures consider child sex, this post will simply show what the age of consent is across the globe. The range begins as low as 11 years old in Nigeria and runs as high as 21 in Bahrain. In countries that specify “must be married” such as Iran and Pakistan the age of consent can actually be below 11 if the woman has reached puberty and can produce children.

We need to understand the distinctions here since a child is not considered a child in every culture once she has reached puberty or a marriagable age. Westerners may find this objectionable but tradition dictates the rules and the case could be made without much argument since lifespans were quite a bit lower in the past. If you were not expected to reach or exceed 40 years of age then starting a family at age 11 was not condemned by the society.

Even today, the real age of consent in Ethiopia is about 12 years although women marry and start families even younger than that despite the laws of the country stipulating its 18 in line with the majority Western view. On this last point I am speaking from the position of personal knowledge. My wife’s mother was married at age 11 in the Amhara region of Ethiopia and produced 8 children before she reached 20. Her husband was 20 years her senior which is another way of saying he was 31 when they wed. He became a father of a large family and was not seen as a criminal. All completely normal in a traditional society. Nobody even questions that here.

My point obviously is we need to keep our perspectives on who is a female child and who is actually a mother in waiting when it comes to young women. Within the context of family formation in traditional societies, what seems foreign in the West is completely normal elsewhere. Older men do indeed marry much younger women. Its been going on for thousands of years and its not some kind of perversion. Those men are not pedophiles. Neither are the girls being sexually exploited. The objective is to start a family. As you can see from the chart there is a very wide latitude in viewpoints depending on the cultural background of the society in question.

From a practical point of view, raising the age of consent and delaying marriage (and thus early childbirth in most cases) has the effect of lowering fertility rates. Just as does the conventional wisdom that young women should get a broad based education such as a 4 or 6 year degree and then find themselves in the workforce before seriously considering marriage. So the agenda becomes apparent when looked at through that lens. Delaying sexual relations, adding on years of education and work experience and stunting relationships between the sexes actually results in reduced population growth. And that is another of the feminist agendas which have been quite successful from the numbers point of view. For women themselves however it has led to a life of lonliness as many never mate or marry at all anymore and they seem to have little awareness of why their lives did not work out as they imagined.