In practice, too, the consent laws only protected white females, as many non-white females were enslaved or otherwise discriminated against by the legal system.”  4. So a 50 year old man could legally have sexual intercourse with a 7 year old boy or girl.” “These early laws specified that a girl consenting to sex had to be at least 10 to 12 years old in most states, with a few specifying ages as old as 14 or 16.
In Delaware, the age of consent was seven, based on ancient English laws setting the age squire.” “Traditionally, across the globe, the age of consent for sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom.
In most cultures, the marriage would have been consummated at the onset of puberty. Professor of history Margaret Wade Labarge “It needs to be remembered that many Medieval widows were not old, Important heiresses were often married between the ages of 5 and 10 and might find themselves widowed while still in their teens.” “In Medieval and early modern European societies, the age of marriage remained low, with documented cases of brides as young as seven years, although marriages were typically not consummated until the girl reached puberty (Bullough 2004).
Shakespeare’s Juliet was just 13, and there is no hint in the play that this was considered to be exceptional.
What was the ‘Age of Consent’ in European and American history, prior to the 20th century?
In this article, I shall bring forth evidences which demonstrate that the ‘Age of consent’ was indeed, very young, even by today’s standards.
The theft of a girl’s chastity was seen as a property crime against her father and future husband. Most states codified a statutory age of consent during the nineteenth century, and the usual age was ten years.” “In 1962, the American Law Institute recommended that the legal age of consent to sex- that is, the age below which sex is defined as statutory rape- be dropped in every state to age 10 (Katchadourian and Lund 1972: 439).
At the start of the nineteenth century in England, it was legal to have sex with a 10 year-old girl.” “Until the late 20th century U. age of consent laws specifically names males as perpetrators and females as victims.
The trend to give children more time to mature is relatively new.
In his book, The Emphatic civilization, (Penguin, NY, 200) Jeremy Rifkin points out that the concept of adolescence only emerged during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first three decades of the twentieth century.
I will provide academic sources which show that girls were allowed to be married at the age of 10 years old and sometimes times, as young as 7 years old, legally.
It was norm just over 100 years ago to see girls being married off at very young ages.