To think some people are SUCH hypocrites about historical age of consent

(87 Posts)
RestlessSoul Mon 09-Sep-13 18:49:33

Today I was reading about age of consent in the past out of curiosity after a remark from an American friend of a friend about Prophet Mohamed's relationship with his wife Aisha and how simply awful & barbaric it was that she was only 9, accusations of pedophilia etc.

After googling and reading about historical ages of consent around the world, I am confused with this person. What an idiot. They don't even know their own history.

In 1880 in the US just 133 years ago the age of consent in Delaware was 7 shock. In most other states it was 10 and in a few 12.

I don't understand what he is pontificating about when his home state Georgia allowed grown adult men to freely sleep with 10 year old girls in 1880. And he is condemning something that happened 1400+ years ago.


KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 09-Sep-13 18:52:44

Ignorant., not hypocritical.

MrsDeVere Mon 09-Sep-13 18:52:53

There is an obsession in certain circles with depicting Muslims as paedophiles.

The EDL are always banging on about it. hmm

WestieMamma Mon 09-Sep-13 18:53:54

I would hazzard a guess that he wasn't around in 1880 and didn't have any say in the age of consent back then. YABU.

A grown man having sex with a 9 year old is barbaric and awful. Whether it is Georgia or somewhere else and whenever it was in time. Just because it was legal at some point, doesn't make it OK at any point.

complexnumber Mon 09-Sep-13 18:56:34

Isn't the truth that an 'Age of Consent' is just what any particular culture decides upon.

Wouldn't nature suggest that a female is ready for intercourse as soon as she is ready to ovulate?

(Not an opinion I particularly share, given the ages of my DD's. But any other age is surely arbitrary)

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 09-Sep-13 18:57:03

I read a story today about an 8yo Kuwaity girl dying from internal injuries on her 'wedding night' in Yemen.

complexnumber Mon 09-Sep-13 18:57:28

Please don't think I am condoning sex with a 9 y/o!

needaholidaynow Mon 09-Sep-13 18:57:28

I just can't believe the age of consent in Chile used to be 20 years old! Well you do learn something everyday!

Margaret Beaufort was married off at 12 and gave birth to Henry VII aged 13. She was so badly damaged by the birth she never carried another child.

I wonder how old Mary and Joseph were when Jesus turned up. Weren't Romeo and Juliet supposed to be about 12?

Just saying. smile

I think Juliet was 13 and Romeo about 17 IIRC

nickelbabe Mon 09-Sep-13 19:00:33

but did they actually have sex?

even in this country, girls were martied way before puberty, but the expectation was that there wouldn't be relations until the girl was old enough.

it was almost purely a guarantee that she wouldn't be married off to anyone else.

(old enough being puberty though)

RhondaJean Mon 09-Sep-13 19:00:33

Juliet was 15.

Not that it matters!

RhondaJean Mon 09-Sep-13 19:02:58

I think even then they were shocked about Margaret Beaufort btw, I think the general expectation was the marraige wouldn't be consummated until she was older but that whichever Tudor she married wasn't beating about the bush in terms of producing an heir. Which from his point of view was probably the right thing to do as he was dead before Henry was born.

Even if you go by puberty, we forget that children are going through puberty much earlier than they used to. You were probably looking at 15 ish for girls in the olden days.

I think you're right Rhonda, I seem to remember Philippa Gregory (that font of stud or knowledge wink) saying people were shocked at the time, particularly as Margaret was a small girl and looked younger she was.

Oops, "stud or" = Tudor blush

ClaraOswald Mon 09-Sep-13 19:18:52

The age of consent is technically the age which a person can consent to marry.

Or have marriage consented for them, if they are still a minor.

Which makes absolutely no sense as if you are old enough to marry, then you should be considered a full adult, which most people are not classed as being until they reach 18 in this country.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 09-Sep-13 19:24:20

Mary was traditionally 16

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 19:27:53

Up until 1929 the age of consent for a female in the UK was 14 years old

grumpyoldbat Mon 09-Sep-13 19:30:03

Yabu because a person would only be a hypocrite if they they willingly engaged in intercourse at the age they complain about. What's described in the OP is ignorance.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 19:30:16

YANBU to be shocked that sex with children is still encouraged in some countries & cultures, and has been encouraged in all countries' histories. Next time somebody wheels out the Mohammed story, how about sharing your knowledge and dismay? It might start an interesting discussion smile

skylerwhite Mon 09-Sep-13 19:31:47

Didn't Jerry Lee Lewis marry his 13 year old cousin in the 1950s?

DeepPurple Mon 09-Sep-13 19:34:16

In biblical times people only lived to around 30. They married so young and had kids so young as there wasn't any other option! There is a story in the bible of a woman giving birth so old that it was a miracle etc etc. she was 40 hmm

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 19:37:44

there are stories in the bible of people reaching there 110's I wouldn't be to sure about any of the stories grin

RhondaJean Mon 09-Sep-13 19:38:44

Dare I point out Mary was also a virgin! grin

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 19:39:55

what are you insinuating Rhonda...?

SPBisResisting Mon 09-Sep-13 19:41:01

The average age of death might have been 30 but woll that not have been skewed by all the infant deaths? I suspect if you lived past tbe age of about ten you probably made it to the grand old age of fiftyish

grumpyoldbat Mon 09-Sep-13 19:42:56

Did anyone see Who do you think you are last week? The grandparents of the celebrity had married aged 6 and 10. I was a little shocked.

RhondaJean Mon 09-Sep-13 19:44:12

Not a thing ivy, not a thing.

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 19:45:32

The age of consent in England and Wales has been 16 since the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885. Previously it had been 13, thanks to the work of Josephine Butler in getting the age raised from 12.

England had one of the lowest ages of consent in Europe in the 1870's.

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 19:46:35

I don't think the bloke's being particularly hypocritical though. He's probably not aware of the history of men awarding themselves the right to legally rape female children.

DeepPurple Mon 09-Sep-13 19:46:46

Very true SPB. I'm not sure how the averages were worked out.

I am certainly not approving of sex with young children but pointing out that things were very different when life expectancy was so much shorter.

In some cultures it is acceptable now to marry a 10 year old. We might find that unbelievable but in Britain it was acceptable not that long ago!

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 09-Sep-13 19:55:15

This just proves that most modern inventions including childhood are not bad things. Reading through some of the Wikipedia info makes for somber reading. Paedophilia must be a relatively new phenomenon too based on that. The sick bastards have been about since the dawn of time they just got to positions of authority in society that facilitated their abuse of children a bit like the Catholic priests last generation in Ireland I guess.

IneedAsockamnesty Mon 09-Sep-13 19:55:34

Very few places don't have questionable sex related legislation in there history.

In the uk it was not a offence to rape your wife before the early 90's

hackmum Mon 09-Sep-13 19:57:22

OP, I don't think you understand what a hypocrite is. If your American foaf had defended the practice of child marriage in the US, while condemning it in the case of the Prophet, that would be hypocritical. However, if he simply didn't know about historical practices in the US, then he could hardly be accused of being hypocritical. Perhaps given the opportunity, he'd have condemned the historical practice in the US just as forcefully as he condemned the Prophet.

WMittens Mon 09-Sep-13 19:57:47


there are stories in the bible of people reaching there 110's

There are stories about Biblical characters passing 900 years.

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 19:59:39

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou I saw that story earlier. Horrible. That poor child.

No excuse for ignorant racism though.

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 20:01:19

It might have been acceptable to marry a 10 year old in the West, but it has never really been out and out acceptable to use her for sex at that age.

As others have said, people were a bit disgusted by Margaret Beaufort's husband. Usually there were legal clauses in the marriage contract, which stipulated that the marriage could not be consummated before a certain age, or before a year after the first menstruation.

Having said that, if the husband decided to ignore the clause, there was nothing his in-laws could legally do about it.

Juliet was 13 when she married Romeo. She had "not seen the change of fourteen years". I think she's about to turn 14 though as her upcoming birthday is mentioned.

In the play her dad tries to delay her marriage to Paris by a couple more years as he thinks she's too young. And her mother says to her that at her age, she was already married and a mother, so she must have married younger than 13.

I remember being quite shocked about her age when I studied the play at school.

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 20:29:51

BasilBabyEater girls were allowed to marry at 14 until 1929 in England and Wales

waltzingmathilda Mon 09-Sep-13 20:30:11

Up until 1929 the age of consent for a female in the UK was 14 years old

thats not true - the age of consent was raised from 12 to 16 in 1885

waltzingmathilda Mon 09-Sep-13 20:32:09

I would point out the age of consent in Spain was only recently raised to 13 - so do remember that when holidaying and the waiter fancies a quick bit.

Tinlegs Mon 09-Sep-13 20:34:33

Juliet is 13, nearly 14 and her marriage is consummated. She is not considered too young as her mother says she is older than her mother was when she was produced. However, Shakespeare does not condone this, he is merely emphasising her youth as having her aged 16 would not do. We are not told Romeo's age but he is usually assumed to be 16-19.

Lots of things happened in the past that we now condemn, rightly. I like to think we have learned!

unlucky83 Mon 09-Sep-13 20:35:39

My DPs mother (Algerian) was married at 14ish and had 4 boys by the time she was 20. (Last 2 born in France - DP was the youngest and
being in France and having boys is probably why she could stop at 4)
Her mother (so DPs grandmother) was married at 10 - had 16 children with 10 surviving. Mostly girls hence DPs mother being 'older' when she was married - it was a struggle to get rid of all the girls and she was no 8.sad

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 20:36:57
waltzingmathilda Mon 09-Sep-13 20:39:57

I'd also point out that 'marriage' in modern language would have meant betrothal - there would have been a religious ceremony but no intercourse would have taken place until well after puberty.

If you go back pre medieval, nobility would not marry until the female was pregnant - no one wanted a barren wife. Thus of course blowing the chastity on the wedding bed theory right out of the water.

With regard to MargaRet Beaufort, she had many husbands - the first when she was one year old - we would call that a betrothal - but it was annulled. If you include that marriage she had 4 husbands.

FreudiansSlipper Mon 09-Sep-13 20:47:17

i would say she is ignorant she was actually married to Muhammed at 6 or 7 (he was in his 50's)marriage was not consummated until she was 9

it is spoken about how Muhammed would watch her play with dolls (suggesting she was still a child that liked to play) i am not sure if this is before or after a sexual relationship started) but she was very influential and respected. i see nothing wrong with questioning all this while accepting times were different

i would also question why in some muslim countries young girls are still married off and the reason why is often given because their profit married a young girl

times have moved on some societies need to move on all religion should be questioned it can be done so with respect and not used to attack others

complexnumber Mon 09-Sep-13 20:48:04

Please remember that a heck of a lot of the world's population have no idea of when their birthday is... and consequently may not be too sure as to how old they are at all. So 'age of consent' may not have that much meaning.

(This was certainly true in the rural part of Northern Nigeria where I worked a long time ago)

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 20:53:35

I think the age of consent must have related to unmarried women then. It was definitely raised to 16 in 1885, in the wake of WT Stead's maiden tribute campaigning and before that, it had been raised from 12 to 13 due to Josephine Butler's campaign. England had just about the lowest age of consent in Europe before her campaigning began.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 20:54:04

Yes, matilda, it's still common practice in many cultures to 'betroth' small children. When the girl reaches puberty, they consummate and have a ceremony. They are referred to as husband & wife from the betrothal, however. It used to be like that pretty much everywhere.

Agree about the inventions of childhood and paedophilia.

The thing about people living only a short time isn't about averages, it's as it sounds. Archaeologists can assess the age of a skeleton, plus there are detailed records from way back. Even as recently as WW1, ordinary people in Britain often died before the age of 30. So, yes, you had to cram a full life cycle into 15 years or thereabouts - and would be working from about 7yo.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 20:55:54

I like Josephine Butler smile Wouldn't agree with all of her views, by any means, but what an amazing woman!

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 20:56:52

Have just looked it up in a biography of Josephine Butler and would you believe, in 1879 this was the law:

If you "seduced" a girl under 12, it was a felony. Between 12 and 13 it was a misdemeanor. Over 13 it was not a legal offence, though abduction with the intention to seduce a girl under the age of 16 was. If the girl was an heiress however, the age of consent (unless she was married) was 21.

So I'm guessing age of consent related to unmarried girls. As soon as they were married, it all went out the window by the looks of it.

Hopefully an historian with an interest in this will come along and put us all straight in a bit. grin

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 21:03:06

why do you think girls got married as a minor in the 1800's, because they were pregnant. The parents had to give permission for them to get married but they had already had sex and that was why they had a shot gun marriage

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 21:05:29

Yes she really was an incredible woman Garlic - a real heroine IMO.

pmgkt Mon 09-Sep-13 21:07:51

I think the age of mary and joseph is irrelevant as she didn't have sex!!!! jesus was the immaculate conception

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 21:11:38

Mary was the Immaculate Conception, not Jesus. It's relevant because she was betrothed to Joseph at a very young age.

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 21:12:39


<recaptures Catholic credentials after wondering about Elizabethan nuns on the chat thread grin>

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 21:16:59

Here's a vair interesting site on European age of consent laws:

This stands out:

"There was one exception: a man's acts with his wife, to which rape law, and hence the age of consent, did not apply."

Sparklymommy Mon 09-Sep-13 21:26:07

An interesting subject. Josephine Butler was an incredible woman.

The mind boggles sometimes! The idea of dd, at ten, getting married, is repulsive. She is a child. A baby.

I always found Juliets' mother very silly and immature. Maybe this is why!

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 21:32:24

I think she is supposed to be. I am re-reading "Wicked" by Jolly Super and Juliet's nurse is described as the most irritating woman in English literature.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 21:33:23

Ivykaty - they had already had sex been raped sad

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 21:42:20

Oh god I've just clicked on a link on my FB which is the story of a child bride in Yemen who died of the injuries her 40 year old groom inflicted on her on her wedding night. sad

ScottishInSwitzerland Mon 09-Sep-13 21:46:51

You learn something new every day. I thought the immaculate conception was when Jesus was conceived inside Mary.

I have two daughters. Very young still. But it makes my blood run cold to think of the reality for young girls not that long ago (and actually still happening in other countries)

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 21:57:15

My former boss got it wrong and every year told the whole (Catholic) school that Jesus was the Immaculate Conception so it's understandable!

BasilBabyEater Mon 09-Sep-13 22:22:41

I always thought it meant St Anne never had sex as well.

I think I had a confused impression that Mary came from a long line of women who in the midst of patriarchal religion, were for some reason blessed with the gift of autogenesis. hmm

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 22:44:19

lol at Basil. Remarkable isn't it? Fucking patriarchy.

boschy Mon 09-Sep-13 22:52:39

seriously??? Mary was the product of immaculate conception, not Jesus? blimey, that's something I missed out on in my convent secondary years. <sings: sancta maria imacculata etc>

Heebiejeebie Mon 09-Sep-13 23:01:46

In Italy the age of consent is 14 or 13 if your partner is 16 or under, so Romeo and Juliet were probably legal. It's 14 In lots of Europe.

eretrew Mon 09-Sep-13 23:08:02

There are many things that were normal in the not too distant past, however this does not mean they were good or should be continued going forward into the future and the historical age of consent is one of those things that modernity has got correct in my view.

TheYoniWayIsUp Mon 09-Sep-13 23:11:38

Vaultfulloftwizzlers, can you explain?
Jesus was the immaculate conception because Mary conceived him without having sex. What do you mean when you say Mary was the immaculate conception?

MooncupGoddess Mon 09-Sep-13 23:16:35

No, Mary is the product of the immaculate conception, her parents just had a chaste kiss and lo! her mother was pregnant. It's not in the Bible though, just later Catholic doctrine.

skylerwhite Mon 09-Sep-13 23:19:38

The feast of the immaculate conception is in December, on the 8th. Which wouldn't make sense if it referred to Jesus' conception (I know these are all artificial feast days, but there seems to be some internal logic to this one, at least).

PrincessFiorimonde Mon 09-Sep-13 23:26:07

Mary was conceived in the usual way, but was miraculously free from Original Sin. Hence she is the Immaculate Conception.

See Catholic Encyclopedia here

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 23:28:17

December the eighth, when my former boss would take assembly and make an absolute tit of himself in terms of religious knowledge.

<happy sigh>

StephenFrySaidSo Mon 09-Sep-13 23:41:11

OP do you know what the word hypocrite means? why does the historical age of consent in America make that man an idiot? he did not create those laws nor exist in those time. he was talking about 1 man.

also- do people really actually believe that there was an 'immaculate conception'? confused i thought everyone (above the age of 12ish) knew that it wasn't true. i'm a bit gobsmacked that people are actually debating this as if it is fact!

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Mon 09-Sep-13 23:44:15

TheYoniWayIsUp it is all in the link.

Mary, not Jesus, was the Immaculate Conception.

ivykaty44 Tue 10-Sep-13 20:18:52

garlicbaguette I was talking about shot gun weddings in young teens, not rape but consenting sex between two teens and then the girl getting pg and having to get married. As the age you could get married was under 16 they could do so with parents permission up until 1929.

Basil seems to think the age of consent was only for unmarried people as the age you could get married was under 16 until 1929 and they wouldn't get married and not have sex iyswim.

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Tue 10-Sep-13 20:33:34

Stephen I certainly don't believe it but it is useful to know what so many people did believe in the past and do now, I think.

My DD had a catholic education and I think it will stand her in good stead for studying history or literature in the future. Not to mention politics.

IrisWildthyme Tue 10-Sep-13 20:34:00

Ach Princess you got there first. That was what I was about to say.
The Immaculate Conception is required by Catholic Doctrine as Mary is supposed to be pure and sin-free and untainted by the same old original sint he rest of us have even if we never get around to any proper sinning.

StephenFrySaidSo Tue 10-Sep-13 20:59:12

ah! thanks for explaining vault i was genuinely confused

BasilBabyEater Tue 10-Sep-13 21:01:12

I think it must have been Ivykaty.

The age of consent was definitely placed at 16 in 1885.

But that clause in that little article I linked to was clear that marriage took priority over age of consent (and rape laws) shock

Also AFAIK the age of consent only applied to females. I've never seen anything about age of consent for males except after the legalisation of homosexuality between men.

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Tue 10-Sep-13 21:43:45

I really should have clarified, Stephen - got carried away!

And there is an inappropriate lol to one of Basil's post from me which I don't understand. Can everyone please ignore it? HQ have better things to do I'm sure.

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Tue 10-Sep-13 21:49:42

Oh - I was lolling at Basil's autogenesis rather than the horrific story.

I really should go to bed but won't

TheUglyFuckling Tue 10-Sep-13 21:53:00

historically speaking it was perfectly legal to marry very young children together. But, their parents weren't stupid and realised that a young girl of 11 or 12 wasn't physically developed enough to successfully deliver a baby, even if she was old enough to conceive.

Margaret Beaufort was very much an exception in having henry Tudor when she was only 13. but her family were determined to get a Lancaster heir as soon as possible and were prepared to risk Margaret's health to gain that end.

King John married Isabella of Angouleme when she was only 12 and presumably had sex with her from the start as people were shocked and disapproved. She didn't have her first baby until her early twenties so it's quite possible that she wasn't even menstruating when King John married her sad

typically married girls would wait until they were considered 'fully formed' before being allowed to have sex with their husbands. So it was quite common for girls as young as 14 or 15 to have babies and no one batted an eye.

Looking back I was fully physically developed by the time I was 15 and I wouldn't have had any problems carrying a baby or delivering it, I don't think.

TheUglyFuckling Tue 10-Sep-13 21:58:41

I also think that the concept of 'a protected childhood' is a relatively new concept and didn't really exist more than 150 years ago.

children as young as 6 were working full days in heavy industry such as mining or farming. young children were often executed for crimes. Couples married in their very early teens.

young children of nobles were often given as hostages. King John actually hanged several hostage children at Nottingham castle when Llewelyn of Wales broke his vow of allegience. The youngest child hanged was only 5 sad

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