So let's examine the facts, one by one:
“Married adolescents are typified by:
large spousal age gaps.”
Never mind the mangled grammar--just note that this is cited, without explanation, as a problem with the marriages. It is simply a strong expression of prejudice.
“limited social support, due to social isolation”
If this is a concern, and it should be, our efforts should be fully directed to introducing the practice of child marriage into the First World. Social isolation is an endemic problem in the developed West, and it is largely due to separation from the extended family. By contrast, a child bride in the Third World has just doubled her number of close relatives. In most cases, they will all be living close by.
“limited educational attainment and no schooling options.”
In other words, the child bride has managed to escape years of unpaid labour. This sounds like an advantage to me—but probably isn't. There's little chance she could have afforded to go to school in any case. Not that school would have been any use to her--it would prepare her for jobs that do not exist.
“intense pressure to become pregnant.”
Anyone who has actually known a real girl or woman knows that women want children. Two-year-olds will play with dolls. Women without children will treat a dog or cat as one. The chance to have children before other women is a significant advantage of the practice, for women.
For some reason, we enjoy torturing our youth by denying them marriage and responsibility until long after puberty. And then we wonder why they are so difficult during those teenage years. Girls, at least, avoid this in the Third World.
“increased risk of infant and maternal mortality.”
This just is not true. Maternal mortality risk rises steadily with age, and is highest for the first birth. “Puerperal fatality [that is, death of the mother in childbirth] was at a minimum for the youngest mothers and increased very sharply with advancing age of mother,” notes a study done in New York State.
That means it is safest to have your first child when you are quite young; and this is more crucial in the Third World, where there is often little medical care available. The UN page claims the reverse, that younger women are more likely to die in childbirth--but it does not seem to have controlled for the fact that younger women are much more likely to be undergoing their first birth.
Maternal mortality risk is also correlated with nutrition—and one important advantage to marrying a much older man is that he is probably more financially established. If one truly cares for the life and health of Third World women, one should encourage the practice.
Increased vulnerablity to HIV and other STIs.
Once again, this is the reverse of the truth. The surest way to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases, next to lifelong chastity, is to marry young and stay monogamous.
Restricted social mobility-freedom of movement.
When a woman marries, she is out from under the control of her father, and mistress in her own home. At worst, she has a bossy mother-in-law to contend with instead of a bossy mother; but she has her husband as a possible ally against her. Probably in most cases a step up in terms of social mobility and freedom of movement.
Little access to modern media.
Again, one of the points of May-December marriage is that the husband will be more financially established, and so better able to support a wife and children. It follows, in case it is important, that the child bride will as a result have greater access to modern media than otherwise.
Lack of skills to be viable to the labour market.
She already has a job—wife and mother. It is a good job, and a well-paid one. Good jobs are rare in the Third World—jobs of any kind are rare in the Third World. Those that are available are almost entirely unskilled—and so she has the skills she needs in any case.
The page goes on to say, “The link is clear. It is no coincidence that the same countries ... that have high rates of child marriage are those with: high poverty rates, birth rates, and death rates.”
Yes, indeed, the link is clear—it is poor countries in which May-December marriages are most advantageous to both parties. Men cannot afford to support families until later in life. Women cannot afford to wait too long to have children, or the health risks become significant.
Greater incidence of conflict and civil strife.
This is a major cause of poverty everywhere. But it is also a good reason why it is not wise for a woman to remain single longer than necessary. She needs all the male protection she can get.
The UN page goes on to use the subhead “Disparities in Age and Power,” without explaining how these two things—age and power—might be related. In fact, a woman who is significantly younger than her husband, in the Third World, has a great deal of power over him as a direct result. Inevitably, in old age, should he survive that long, he will be wholly dependent on her. This becomes an overwhelming incentive to treat her well in youth.
My correspondent goes on to say “Your synopsis of feminism is also painfully underthought - the foundation of feminism is simply human rights- that no person, regardless of race, gender, age, should be systematically oppressed by another individual or group.”
Again, this is just about the opposite of the true foundation of feminism. Feminism has never been about equality. It was, in the first place, about enabling casual sex. It has since become about getting more for women under any circumstances, and suppressing the rights of men. It has also become quite actively racist, and hostile to all non-Western cultures.
As the current discussion shows.