End Child Marriage in Oregon
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Esther was 17 years old when her parents pressured and coerced her into marrying a 23-year-old man. In her own words, "He must have raped me a million times." Her husband did not allow her to use birth control, so she soon became pregnant against her will. She reflects, "Maybe if my parents couldn't sign for me, and they had to wait until I was 18, I would have been able to stand up to them."
Oregon law allows 17-year-olds like Esther to get married with parental consent. As in Esther's case, most teenage girls marrying adult men are coerced, pressured, or forced into the marriage by their parents. However, judges often fail to identify the psychological manipulation involved and simply take parents at their word that their daughter is willingly entering into the marriage. 17-year-old girls in Oregon are extremely vulnerable to being exploited in this way.
According to an analysis of marriage records, more than 200,000 minors were married in the United States between 2000 and 2015. In the vast majority (~90%) of cases, teenage girls were married to adult men. While most were married to men in their twenties, several hundred were married to men in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Such marriages allow men to circumvent statutory rape laws.
PLEASE do your part in ending this egregious human rights abuse by urging Oregon state legislators to take action. The current law amounts to nothing less than the legalization of rape.
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