relationships The "Appropriate Ages" For Marriage From Cultures Around The World  

Cheryl Adams Richkoff
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In the United States, most regions allow people as young as 18 to tie the knot without parental consent. But what about in other countries? There's no set marriage age around the world. Some countries base their marriage laws on specific ages, while others simply require parties to have reached puberty before they can be legally wed.

When discussing marriage and sex culture around the world, it's important to acknowledge how different perceptions of maturity and religious beliefs can affect societies' views. A number of nations continue to have high rates of child brides, though human and women's rights activists are working to change that. What's considered a marriage-ready age varies widely from area to area - and even from person to person - but most would agree that the willingness and understanding of both parties is crucial to such a commitment.

Marriage age around the world is often higher than the age of sexual consent, even within in the same countries. But regardless of your personal views on intimacy and matrimony, learning about marriage culture around the world can provide an intriguing look at how other societies live.

There's No Set Marriage Age In Yemen


There's No Set Marriage Ag... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The "Appropriate Ages" For Marriage From Cultures Around The World
Photo: Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Yemen allows girls as young as 8 to enter into marriage. Child marriage is deeply ingrained in Yemen, with causes such as poverty and religious tradition reinforcing the practice. There's no legal marriage age in the nation; a child's parents are allowed to determine when they can be married. UNICEF estimates that 32% of girls in the country are married before age 18.

In Massachusetts, Boys Of 14 And Girls Of 12 Can Get Married With Parental Consent


In Massachusetts, Boys Of 14 A... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The "Appropriate Ages" For Marriage From Cultures Around The World
Photo: Fotasca/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

A number of American states set the legal age to marry at 18. However, some states allow minors to marry, with certain restrictions. Massachusetts, for instance, does not set a specific minimum age for marriage. According to a controversial precedent set in 1854, boys as young as 14 and girls as young as 12 are allowed to get married in the state.

However, there are a few hoops they must jump through first. A court order is required, and before a judge will grant an order for a minor to wed, both parents of the child must appear and give their consent. If one or both parents live outside of Massachusetts, a court may order notice of the hearing be sent to them. However, no court order is required if a parent has deserted the minor, if the parent cannot give permission due to mental illness or other incapacity, or if the parent has been deemed unfit to have custody.

Girls Who Hit Puberty Can Be Married In Sudan


Girls Who Hit Puberty Can Be M... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The "Appropriate Ages" For Marriage From Cultures Around The World
Photo: Fabian Lambeck/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Marriage laws in Sudan vary based on religion. The Personal Status Law of Muslims allows a girl to get married once she reaches puberty, and states that 10-year-olds can be married by their guardians with a judge's permission. However, the Marriage of Non-Muslims Act of 1926 sets marriage age at 13 for non-Muslim girls, and at 15 for non-Muslim boys.

Regardless of their religion, UNICEF studies estimate that one in three Sudanese girls marry before the age of 18.

Japan's Age Of Consent Is Typically 13


Japan's Age Of Consent Is ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The "Appropriate Ages" For Marriage From Cultures Around The World
Photo: keroyama/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

The age of consent in Japan is 13. However, some regions also have "corruption of minors" or "obscenity" statutes that essentially raise the age of consent to 16-18.

In terms of marriage, girls of 16 and boys of 18 may get married with parental consent. At age 20, they can be married without parental consent.