I have heard it spoken by Muslims that Mohammad did nothing wrong in marrying Aisha. She was six when they were wed, and nine when their marriage was consummated.
I am not going to use this post to bash a religion or dictate behavior. I have my personal feelings, which I will remove from this blog so that we can examine a deeper issue. That came from Muslims saying that childhood is a modern invention. I would like to point out that that this is being written from an evolutionary perspective, and all other factors will be omitted. I want the facts to be understood here, what ever they might be.
It has been said that since the median age for our life expectancy has increased we mature at a slower rate. Muslims have stated to me that if we only live for forty years that being ten years old was a fourth of their lifespan already gone, and that since females can only produce a limited amount of children it is better for them to start young, and it is healthier for them.
Modern day medicine with all the technical advances says that it is far greater of a risk for teen pregnancy. That is because the body is still growing and developing. The uterine tissue is still very immature and can be torn easy. Also the vaginal canal is not as long, and the pelvis is still small and may not be wide enough for child birth. That and the demands of nutrients for a growing body make it more likely that a young girl would suffer from iron deficiency. Also since the calcium demands would go up her bones may suffer loss, as well as her teeth and hair. Pregnancy is a great demand on a mature female body, and an immature body can suffer further damage the may not be reparable. After all the growth plates in her body have not yet closed, but they may close prematurely if there is a lack of nutrition. So it is not more healthy for a female to have children young. Having offspring is a sacrifice for any organism, and should be respected as such.
The American Journal of Human biology States this about the longevity of sexual reproduction in females. “Females sacrifice a smaller proportion of their reproductive potential due to nursing by weaning their offspring at younger ages. As a consequence, the optimal length of the female reproductive period decreases as weaning age decreases, even when adult mortality is low.”
The point that they are making here is that since we wean our children sooner we are actually shortening our reproductive length. When a woman is nursing a baby she will often go into an estrus so that the child is weaned before her body begins ovulation again. Modern women often feed formula or nurse until nine months. The highest normal age is on average a year. Since we do not breast feed as much during modern times we return to ovulating and this shortens the cycle of reproduction for us females. Some women have been reported to have had healthy children at age forty five, but that was when women still nursed their children for longer periods.
Some young girls begin menstruating at the tender age of nine. It is not a routine event. The average age of first menstruation is around twelve to thirteen years old. It actually co-insides with male sexual development. Our offspring usually begin the process of sexual maturation around the same time for a reason. They will mature to enter the breeding pool around the same time, so young and healthy individuals are ready for mating around the same time. This makes it more of a likely hood of healthy offspring. Even in nature we see that as males come of sexual maturity they challenge the older and dominant male. If the male can not defend his position he is replaced quickly. It is only in the human species do we see older males who are beyond their prime years attempting to create offspring with very juvenile females. In nature a male past his prime is low in the pack.
Now the theory of a modern childhood. Actually all primates have a childhood. As do other mammals. it is not by far a modern invention. It has been in the works for millions of years. If we look at the behavior of primates other than ourselves we can see that they tend to rear their children with the same care and understanding that we put into our offspring. They can spend years showing their offspring how to fend for themselves. While it may be shortened compared to ours, we are one of the longest living primates. We can afford to elongate their childhood, but it is by no means a modern invention. that we know from the age of sexual maturity. In other primates, they can be only a few years old before they become sexually mature. Sexual maturity is the beginning of adulthood, but it is not the signaling of the onset of adulthood. that can be found in bones. Once a human has reached the adult stage their growth plates close. Once these have closed, it is a sign that the body has matured to a state where further growth is done. This happens around the age of eighteen. Though the skull plates do not close until around thirty years old. That is so the brain can keep growing.
In summation every evidence we can see from biology and the structure of humans we are not mature until the age of eighteen. Now I have also had it said to me that a fifteen year old girl and a fifty year old man have the same hormone levels. I would like to address this as well. During the primary years of a girl, or boys sexual maturity there are peaks and drops in the levels of hormones as the body adjusts to the induction of them. We know his from many signs, males begin to develop a deeper voice, often times teens face acne from hormones, and oil production and other keys. Girls can have fluctuations in their periods, and have a higher chance of cysts. So it would be hard for a fifty year old man to match the rapid changing fluctuations in hormone levels. “Taking advantage” of a teens changes in hormone levels and desire to realize their sexuality equates to wrongful behavior. Those who are in their teens and early twenties face the same hormone levels and sexual understanding.
So to address the thinking of Muslims who have proudly touted these things, this is the facts. Also fourteen hundred years ago is not enough evolutionary time for significant changes. So the next time a person states how they know the facts about sexual maturity in children feel free to show them this, because marrying children, is still being married to a biological child.