End Child Marriage in Massachusetts

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Currently, our state laws allow for children under the age of 18 to be married with parental and court consent. The child does not have to consent.

We ask our state legislature to put S.2294, which passed unanimously in the Senate to a vote and vote to end child marriage in Massachusetts.

Child marriage is detrimental to women and girls.

Nearly 1,231 children as young as 14 were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016 - and 83.7 percent (1,030) of them were girls wed to adult men. For example, a 14-year-old girl married a 23-year-old man in 2003. The oldest person during this time period to marry a minor was a 39-year-old man who married a 17-year-old girl in 2014.

Since January of 2020, 9 petitions have been filed for marriages of minors in Massachusetts. Three of those were just filed in the month of July. 
S.24, now S.2294, passed unanimously in the Senate in July of 2019. Now it is waiting for a vote in the House. It is currently  in the House Committee on Ways and Means.

A national study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 estimated that nearly 1.7 million children/women in the U.S. had gotten married at age 15 or younger and over 9.4 million had married at age 16 or younger.

Married children, because they are minors, face many obstacles when they try to leave or resist such a marriage including obtaining services from the Department of Children and Families, bringing legal action including filing for divorce, renting, shelter admission,  and opening a checking account.

Child marriage undermines the child’s health, education and economic opportunities and increases the risk of domestic violence and divorce.

Between 70-80% of marriages involving children end in divorce.

For teen mothers, getting married and later divorcing can more than double the likelihood for poverty.

A 2006 Department of Justice study found that girls and young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence among all such victims, noting that girls aged 16-19 face victimization rates almost triple the national average.

Women who marry in their teens tend to have more children, earlier and more closely spaced, which can prevent them from accessing education and work opportunities, limiting their earning power and ability to be financially independent in the event of domestic violence or divorce.

Women who marry before the age of 19 are 50% more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college. 

For these reasons and many more, we implore you to vote now to end child marriage.