Monday, August 01, 2005

Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon

Okay, when I wondered if there were any contemporary marriage laws as repressive as those dreamed up by Stalin, I was showing my Euro-centric leanings, because of course there are wildly repressive laws.

First I told you about Turkmenistan's $50,000 marriage tax, which was recently rescinded, and now I present you with this litany of horrors, which shows many of the regimes of the Middle East to be either wildly repressive or boldly unsullied by western ideals. As they say, We report, you decide.

Let's start with Iran, where adultery is punishable by death and a girl can be married off at the age of nine. Next on our magical mystery tour is the liberated Constitutional Monarchy of Kuwait, where a girl must be no younger than fifteen before she's married -- though she'll need to be older than 25 if she wants to choose her own spouse. Prior to that, a judge or her father is entrusted with the power to make that selection. As for marrying a non-Kuwaiti citizen, it doesn't matter if you're eight or eighty. You're gonna need to know someone who pumps the oil. There are laws against that.

Dropping down to Africa, you'll see that the United Republic of Tanzania allows girls of any age to be entered into marriage, though only if there is no plan to consumate that marriage before her tweltfh birthday. So much for wanting one of these. In Japan, meanwhile, the age of sexual consent is fourteen, or at least in the more conservative sections of the country; elsewhere it's thirteen. Of course, in just about any self-respecting Japanese city, you can buy "artist panties" from a vending machine. Be sure to bring crisp bills.

On the matter of the age of sexual consent, can someone tell me why the Chilean government thinks it's all right for twelve-year-old girls to have sex with a boy or man no younger than herself, if she then has to wait until she's eighteen before having sex with another female? Chile isn't alone with the young age of consent law. There are creepy websites telling you that twelve is legal in Mexico and Paraguay too. Uncivilized, isn't it? And I mean you too, Canada. No wonder you're so quiet up there. Age of consent: fourteen.

Just once, I'd like to see a government pass a law making the age of consent forty-one. It doesn't have to be a big country. It'd just have to be one brave enough to contribute to the diversity of the human experience.

I'll end with Europe*, birthplace of the Enlightenment, where you should know that you can't get married if you're a twelve year-old living in the Netherlands, but you can avail yourself of that country's laws allowing assisted suicide. Granted, most people move there for the pot.

*I lied. Back to Iran, where according to this , homosexuals caught in the act are given four options: a hanging, a good old-fashioned stoning, a halving by the sword, or a drop "from the highest perch." Imagine that played out on Law & Order:

Lawyer (to Crowd): Actually, there's a higher point on the other end of town.

Crowd-Member: The new McDonald's!

Lawyer: Yes, the Golden Arches ...