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QUESTION: Why would a 12 year old girl want to marry an adult man (20 years older than her) when she turns 16 years old when he asks her? Her mother told her that she can marry him when she turns 16 year old and is allowed to live with him and her mother in the same household for the next four years. How would she feel when this man tells her that will never have sex with a girl before that age of 16 or 18 depending the legal age of consent? She also says that she wants to become pregnant with his child when she turns 18.

Would the 12 year old be able to understand the following when the man she wants to marry explains this to her?

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad.  For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Additionally, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

ANSWER: If this child and the man in question are physically in the United States and you feel that this child has been or is in danger of being abused, sexually or otherwise, you have the legal obligation to report this and should do so immediately.  To be perfectly honest, based on my upbringing, this is just wrong but I do not pretend to understand all of the laws and cultural practices in other countries.  Sorry I cannot provide more on this issue.

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QUESTION: There is no evidence that this child is being abused. This man basically explains to her that it is a crime to have sex with a girl under the age of 16 or 18 depending on the legal system? The authorities have noting to hold him on because he has broken no laws.

Answer
Laws or not, this is morally wrong but again, depending on country and what is morally acceptable, this may be common practice.  How can any adult man be in love with a 12 year old girl?  He must really be inadequate and insecure to the extent that he cannot find a woman his own age.  He is not a man in my book, but essentially a pedofile even if he waits until she is legally able to give her consent.  Would you allow this with your daughter?  

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Marcos Torres

Expertise

I can answer many questions regarding child development, best practices in child care and the fathers role in his children's development.

Experience

10 years as a child protective services investigator, 10 years administrator of a residential nonprofit program for developmentally disabled adults and children, 2 years working with parents facilitating a parenting group of first time parents with my wife using the MELD curriculum in the early 80's. Co-wrote and Administered a fatherhood grant working with young fathers and incarcerated fathers. Ran a fatherhood program in a Texas State jail and was Director of Incarcerated Programs for the National Fatherhood Initiative for a year and a half. I also raised two children now 22 and 26 who have excelled academically which I believe is from our learning the best practices in child rearing from the start.

Education/Credentials
BA in Social work in 1980 from New Mexico State University

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