The difficult question - what should be the allowable age difference between a dating boy and a girl - is asked in many countries. In Canada (the province of Quebec), the minimum marriageable age for girls is 12-16 years old, for a young man - 14-16. This creates understandable problems: thirty-year-old girls start dating 12-year-old girls. And in British Columbia (Vancouver), a discussion has unfolded about the legislative limitation of the age difference between dating young people. According to some, it should not exceed 2-3 years.
“Is it normal for a 16 year old girl to date a 28 year old guy? Is it right for a 23-year-old man to date a 17-year-old girl?” the panellists ask.
Jeremy Ellison: Is it appropriate for a 23 year old to date an 18 year old? As for the age difference, five years is nothing. My girlfriend is seven years younger than me. My dad is six years older than my mom. Age is just a number. Compatibility is what matters."
Keith Goodrich: Legally it's fine, but socially and psychologically I don't think so. There are a lot of healthy relationships with a significant age difference, but usually they're both adults."
Edward J. Cook, civil law notary: “A 16-year-old is not a child; A 16 year old is fully fertile... The age of consent in Germany, Italy is 14 years. The age of consent in France, Sweden, etc. is 15.”
The age of consent and the age of marriage are defined differently in different countries. In Europe, the age of marriage for a man is somewhat higher. For example, in Hungary and Poland, the age of marriage is set at 18 for men and 16 for women, in France it is 15 for women and 18 for men. In Asian countries, such as Japan, men can marry at 18 years old, women - at 16; in China, men at 22 (this is the highest age for marriage in the world), women at 20; in India, men at 21, women at 18. In the United States, the minimum age for marriage varies by state. For men, it is defined on average at 14-18 years, and for women - 13-17 years. In Venezuela, Paraguay, Chile and Ecuador, the minimum age for marriage is 14 for men and 12 for women. In Africa, perhaps the lowest age threshold for marriage. For example, in Nigeria and Kenya, the minimum marriageable age for girls is 9 years, for boys it is 16-18. At the same time, the highest age of consent is also set in an African country: in Tunisia, intimate relationships are allowed only from the age of 20.
Despite the fact that in most countries the age of consent is quite high, the international organization Save The Children reports that, on average, one girl under 15 is married every seven seconds in the world. This mainly applies to Muslim countries. The vast majority of child marriages do take place among Muslims. Islamic marriage rules allow girls under the age of 10 to marry as soon as the child begins puberty. This is explained by Sharia law, which is partly based on the actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad is known to have had three wives. The youngest of them, Aisha, was about 6-7 years old at the time of marriage. “Is it possible to go against the word of Allah?” many say in the East. Unfortunately, this also leads to tragic cases. So, in 2013, the tragic death of an 8-year-old girl who was married to a 40-year-old family friend was discussed in Yemen. The young bride did not survive the wedding night - she had a hemorrhage in the uterus. The doctors were unable to save her.
“The question of the age of those who meet and marry is a question of the rights of the child. The case in Yemen with the death of an 8-year-old girl, who was passed off as a 40-year-old girl, is not the only one. How many girls are there who don't die on their wedding night? In fact, this is legalized pedophilia. And the UN turns a blind eye to this, although this is a direct threat to the life and personality of the child. Africa and India have the highest death rates from childbirth in the world. The reason is simple. Underage girls in the villages are secretly married off, and when complications begin in childbirth, they are afraid to go to the hospital or call a doctor, because the doctor will call the police and the parents will go to jail. Customs and traditions cannot be higher than the country's legislation and respect for human rights,” believes writer and public figure Maria Arbatova.
In Russia, boys and girls can officially marry upon reaching the age of 18, and freely live an intimate life from the age of 16. However, for a good reason (usually pregnancy) , you can get married at 16 years old. But in a number of subjects of the Russian Federation there is a lower bar for the minimum age for marriage. For example, in Moscow, Rostov, Samara and several other regions, it is allowed to reduce the age of marriage to 14 years, while in Bashkiria this threshold has not been set at all.
The question of an acceptable age difference between young people who meet periodically arises in Russia, especially in conservative Islamic regions. Everyone remembers the "wedding of the century" in Chechnya, when a 47-year-old man married a 17-year-old schoolgirl, and members of the republic's leadership were present at this wedding.
“We constantly see precedents for “selling” a young female body to a non-young wealthy man, although they are trying to hide them. Then in Chechnya, consent was obtained from the girl’s parents, the age of consent was reached, but the haste of the “groom’s” divorce made it clear that the young girl not only falls into the hands of an elderly man, but also becomes, probably, a second wife. But in conservative regions, this is customary, and no one cares what emotions a girl experiences when she is in bed with a man who is older than dad. In the 1990s, the age of consent was lowered by the legislature under the pressure of precisely the conservative Islamic regions, which made girls less protected, and often simply deprived them of a choice, ”says Maria Arbatova.
Everyone remembers beauty contests, which often become a “fair” for young brides. “Any conversation about the age difference is first and foremost a conversation about protecting girls. We still live in a patriarchal world, and I remember very well the scandals in the nineties, when 14-year-old girls were dragged into beauty contests with fake documents. Somehow, when I got on the jury of such a competition, I found out that the parents themselves forged the documents, considering winning the competition and getting into the bed of elderly men the only way up. Thank God, now the age of the participants is strictly monitored,” says writer and public figure Maria Arbatova.
Of course, it will be difficult to outlaw the meeting of a girl or a girl with a young man or a man much older than her: it is hardly possible to control such relationships. There is only one way out: to create a public opinion that condemns the child falling into the hands of an adult man. And this is not hypocrisy, but common sense. After all, the main thing is to protect a girl, a girl, in fact a child, from corruption and give her the opportunity to develop harmoniously.