Child Brides

From the files of “Fucked Up But Still Legal,” we present minors getting married.

Child marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Child brides can be found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe.

The legally prescribed marriageable age in some jurisdictions is below 18 years, especially in the case of girls; and even when the age is set at 18 years, many jurisdictions permit earlier marriage with parental consent or in special circumstances, such as teenage pregnancy. In certain countries, even when the legal marriage age is 18, cultural traditions take priority over legislative law.[3] Child marriage affects both boys and girls, though the overwhelming majority of those affected are girls..

Laws against child marriage In the USA

Child marriage in the United States is defined by the US Department of State as “a formal marriage or informal union where one or both parties is under the age of 18.”[1] Most child marriages in the US, and internationally, involve underaged girls

The age of marriage in the United States is 18, with the exception of Nebraska (19) and Mississippi (21). Every state allows exceptions to their age of marriage. Most states allow marriage at 16 and 17 with parental consent, and some states also make exceptions subject to judicial approval, or cases of pregnancy. When all exceptions are taken into account, 27 American jurisdictions have no minimum age requirement.[2] Twenty-four of the jurisdictions have a minimum age in these cases, the youngest being 13 (New Hampshire, females only)  Wikpediai

The U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy

In March 2016, the U.S. State Department adopted the Global Strategy To Empower Adolescent Girls, which includes specific provisions on ending child, early and forced marriage and addressing the needs of married girls globally. [2]

Developed by the State Department, in coordination with USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Peace Corps, this whole-of-government strategy aims to coordinate the work and engagement of U.S. agencies to respond to the needs of adolescent girls in a holistic way.

This strategy meets the requirement of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) that the U.S. Secretary of State must “establish and implement a multi-year, multi-sectoral strategy to end child marriage.”

Other initiatives

The U.S. Government is also addressing child marriage through:

  • Let Girls Learn, a whole-of-government initiative to ensure girls are in school and address barriers to education, such as child, early and forced marriage,
  • Developmental assistance programmes at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which addresses child, early and forced marriage as part of its programming to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The USAID Vision for Action on Ending Child Marriage and Meeting the Needs of Married Children is a strong step forward in addressing the root causes of this harmful practice as is the USAID Resource Guide for how the US Government and others can address child, early and forced marriage through multi-sectoral and sector-specific approaches.

Child marriage in the U.S.

Child, early and forced marriage is an emerging problem in the U.S.

In February 2017, new data by Girls Not Brides member Unchained at Last, revealed that over 248,000 children had been married in the United States between 2000 and 2010, mostly to adult men [3].

This work has helped to spur legislative action in multiple states to address legal loopholes that allow for the marriage of minors through parental or judicial consent. Bills to this effect were introduced in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

In March 2017, New Hampshire rejected a bill to increase the age of marriage to 18 on the grounds that it would hurt pregnant teenagers and young military members. [4]

In July 2016, Virginia adopted a bill that increased the minimum age of marriage to 18. However, legislators added an exception for emancipated minors as young as 16. [5] source: Girls not Brides.