Laws to End Child Marriage
Unchained wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in October 2015 that started a national conversation about America’s Child Marriage Problem, and Unchained now is leading the movement to end child marriage, state by state. Click on the map below or on this timeline to read about Unchained’s progress in each state.
CHILD MARRIAGE LEGAL IN EVERY STATE
The United States Department of State declared in March 2016 that child marriage, or marriage in which one or both parties is under age 18, is a “human rights abuse” that “produces devastating repercussions for a girl’s life, effectively ending her childhood.”
Shockingly, though, child marriage is legal in the US. While the minimum marriage age in most US states is 18, exceptions in every state allow child marriage. read more »
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN MARRIED
Unchained At Last, which is dedicated to helping women and girls escape arranged/forced marriages, is in the process of retrieving data from all 50 states about the number of children married recently in America. (Tahirih Justice Center has contributed to this project.) The project is not yet complete, but already, the numbers are alarming. At least tens of thousands of children, as young as age 12, were married in the US in the last decade. Even more alarmingly, nearly all the children married were minor girls married to adult men, often at ages or with age differences that are considered statutory rape.
DANGERS OF CHILD MARRIAGE
The State Department was not exaggerating when it said the impacts of child marriage, or marriage before age 18, are devastating – particularly for girls, who are much more likely to be married as children:
- Children can easily be forced into and/or trapped in a marriage. read more »
- Child marriage undermines girls’ health. read more »
- Child marriage undermines girls’ education and economic opportunities. read more »
- Child marriage increases girls’ risk of experiencing violence. read more »
- Child marriage almost always ends in failure. read more »
Marriage is a serious legal contract with possible lifelong ramifications. It must be reserved for those who have reached the age of majority.
The solution is simple: Every state legislature must eliminate the exceptions that allow children to marry. Period. After all, marriage is a serious legal contract with possible lifelong ramifications; it should be reserved for those who have reached the age of majority.
To date, four states have introduced legislation to end child marriage. Read more on this timeline, or click on each state below to learn more about child marriage there, including the current laws on child marriage and the status of legislation to end child marriage. States represented in gray have begun considering legislation to end child marriage, and states represented in red already passed some legislation.
YOU CAN HELP END CHILD MARRIAGE IN THE US
Take action. Make your voice heard by submitting these pre-filled emails to key elected officials to demand an end to child marriage. Click here to contact Unchained about getting a bill introduced in your state to end child marriage.