Originally Posted by aCultureWarrior
Good point skeptech. Perhaps one of our experts on "consensual morality" could answer that.
Ralphie, the stage is yours.
I understand how one, such as yourself, who does not have a moral objection with 13-year-olds getting married and having children, would struggle with this.
For Skepteck: Age of Consent Laws
|An age of consent statute first appeared in secular law in 1275 in England as part of the rape law. The statute, Westminster 1, made it a misdemeanor to "ravish" a "maiden within age," whether with or without her consent. |
Near the end of the 18th century, other European nations began to enact age of consent laws. The broad context for that change was the emergence of an Enlightenment concept of childhood focused on development and growth. This notion cast children as more distinct in nature from adults than previously imagined, and as particularly vulnerable to harm in the years around puberty.
In the U.S., each state determined its own criminal law (for alaCarte)
At the end of 19th century, moral reformers drew the age of consent into campaigns against prostitution. Revelations of child prostitution were central to those campaigns, a situation that resulted, reformers argued, from men taking advantage of the innocence of girls just over the age of consent.
While those ages were well beyond the normal age of menstruation, proponents justified them on scientific grounds that psychological maturity came later than physiological maturity. They also argued that the age of consent should be aligned with other benchmarks of development, such as the age at which girls could enter into contracts and hold property rights, typically 21 years.
This debate foreshadowed a new link between the law and teenage pregnancy in the 1990s. Conservatives seeking to control adolescent sexuality joined with welfare reform activists. They promoted claims that the enforcement of the age of consent could prevent teenage motherhood (and rising welfare costs) that resulted from girls' exploitation by adult men. Few cases actually fit that pattern, but campaigns to publicize and enforce the law on that basis were implemented in at least 10 states.
In a nutshell, children are not psychologically mature enough to consent, enter into contracts, own property etc. They are more likely to be exploited and taken advantage of, so age of consent laws are aimed at protecting children from agreeing to something that is detrimental to their future as well as their present development. These laws were aimed to counter and prevent childhood prostitution and childhood pregnancy as well as protect children from exploitation, sexual or otherwise.
Children should not be having sex. With consent laws it is rightly a crime whether the child claims to have given consent or not. Without these laws, child predators would be offered a loophole and escape culpability if the child simply states that consent was given, despite their lack of intellectual capacity allowing them to realize that they have been exploited.