Good morning Oliver.
Just did some reading over my morning coffee.
Now, I'm not just focusing on the present (and past) Maya here. Just my thoughts on the idea of cultural based early marriages. It seems the entire discussion has been on females being married to older men. I may have missed any discussion of mutually consentual marriages between people we (meaning 21st century norms) consider "too young"
It seems that in the current day, Mayans only have a life expectancy of 44 years.
I'm not prepared to get into the why's of this fact, as there are several branches going off from this statistic.
However, if a people where generally only living into their 40's, well, one would have to grow up fast, reproduce young, and then be alive long enough to help with the rearing of your childs offspring for awhile.
I daresay a 14 or 15 year old...or a 13 year old preparing for marriage, already have the mindset of an adult.
As far as anient Mayan marriage customs (and ancient covers a lot of years, I'm sure a lot of variance during those times)...
"Maya family law appears to have been based on customary law. Maya men and women usually got married at around the age of 20, though women sometimes got married at the age of 16 or 17. Maya marriages were frequently arranged by matchmakers, and the father of the groom had to approve the match. The bride and groom were required to have different surnames to ensure that they were not from the same lineage. A dowry was required from the groom’s family, which consisted of clothing and household articles for the bride and groom. Marriage ceremonies were performed by a priest in the home of the bride’s father. After the ceremony, the newlyweds lived with the bride's parents for 6-7 years. The groom was required to work for the family during this time as a form of payment for receiving his wife. The married couple then built a permanent home next to the husband’s parents and lived there until death."
I looked this list of the "10 worst places for child marriage"
Niger* — 76 percent
Central African Republic* — 68 percent
Chad* — 67 percent
Bangladesh* — 59 percent
Mali* — 52 percent
South Sudan* — 52 percent
Burkina Faso — 52 percent
Guinea — 51 percent
Mozambique* — 48 percent
India* — 47 percent
A few of these countries, like Bangladesh, currently have a long (relative term) life expectancy.
However, I compared each country to what their life expectancy was in let's say 1950, and the figures came in anywhere from in a persons 30's or 40's.
I'm getting ready to leave for the day, so haven't yet searched what LE was in the far past, but I wager it's been on the low side.
Point is, was early marriage in a "cultural" sense out of necessity?
I would also need to compare what the age difference was between male and females marrying each other. In the past were the ages close, or closer? As LE increased, did the marriage age increase for only males? This puts younger men at a disadvantage as there isn't a population of women available for marriage.
Observe polygamous Mormons in the US, in present day. In some communities young men get driven to other places and literally dumped there. They are taken out of the competition.
Is the continuance of what is being called a cultural standard merely a holdover, directed at women, from a time when it was necessary to breed early?
When access to birth control are made available to women, birth rates and abortion rates go down. Always.
That is the strongest testament to what women want. They want children, but fewer of them.
They want control over their bodies. They may not say it in the sophisticated way we are used to. But it is no less a desire.
I say with all confidence if women (girls) were given a say in their being married off, all these "cultural norms" to quickly fall by the wayside very quickly.
Who is asking these child brides what they want?