End Child Marriage in California

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Current marriage age exception laws in CA offer dangerous loopholes to predators who can and do use them to exploit children.

My Story:

My name is Sara Tasneem, and I am a child marriage survivor who is advocating to end child marriage in California. At just fifteen, I was forced by my father to marry a 28 year old stranger. Sadly, I am not alone, a recent report showed that: "Between 2000 and 2015, at least 207,459 minors were married in the United States", and 86% of child marriages happen to girls marrying adult men. Many Americans are unaware that children across the United States are legally able to marry. State laws govern marriage age laws and 48 out of 50 states allow children under the age of 18 to marry with parental consent, or if there is a pregnancy involved. Join me in fighting to end child marriage in CA today!

Child Marriage is legal in 48 out of the 50 states in the US

Ending child marriage in the United States is an uphill battle because each state must approve new bills limiting the age of marriage to 18.  Many states, including California, are reticent to pass such bills because of age-old patriarchal views of marriage and pregnancy. Recently, Delaware and New Jersey passed the marriage laws to limit the age of marriage to 18 with no exceptions. After the age of 18 individuals are considered adults and they can access the vital services that they might need if they experience abuse, or want to divorce their partners.

Child marriage in California:

In California there is NO age limit for a minor to marry with parental consent and Judicial review.  What is problem with these laws? Minors are easily coerced and forced into marriages especially when raised in an abusive household. Parental consent can mean force and abuse if a minor does not comply with a marriage chosen for them. Once they have been forced into a marriage it is extremely difficult to leave.

Child Marriage is considered a HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE internationally and domestically, but there are very few laws which prevent it. Here is a small list of significant roadblocks that minors face in California when trying to leave an abusive forced marriage.

  • Minors who marry are THREE TIMES more likely to experience abuse within their marriages.
  • Shelters will not take minors in without parental consent, and often minors are turned away or sent to youth shelters where there is a lack of bed space.
  • Minors cannot enter into contracts thus, it is difficult to find an attorney that will take on a minor’s divorce. 
    Minors are not allowed to get driver’s licenses until after 16 (with parental consent).
  • Minors are not allowed to work in some states until 15-16 years old (with parental consent).
  • Many minors who marry are often forced to drop out of school limiting their ability to get jobs, or future opportunities.
  • Minors who marry are faced with serious health risks, and often have more children than their adult counterparts.
  • Minors who marry suffer from higher complications in childbirth, and higher rates of mental health issues.  
  • Forced child marriage can often be inter-generational and many minors who are forced into marriages suffer from multiple layers of abuse.

The solution: END CHILD MARRIAGE FOR GOOD, limit marriage to adults only (18 years+).

 

References: http://apps.frontline.org/child-marriage-by-the-numbers/

Learn more: https://endchildmarriageus.org/

My advocacy work and contact information: https://tasneemsfadvocacy.home.blog/