Stop forced child marriages
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Child marriage is more prominent than you think, in fact forced child marriage is legal in every u.s. state with the exception of Delaware. There are loopholes in the laws of every other state that allow thousands of fully grown adults to marry children and teenagers every year. Many people will find this confusing at first and your scepticism is justifiable.
"Though nearly every state has laws barring children under 18 from marring, there are ways to get exemptions, for example, by asking for judicial consent or presenting parents' permission" according to the Pew Research Center, and Delaware, and New Jersey are the only states to have entirely banned child marriage.
Generally, children cannot initiate legal action in their own name. In many states that means a child is allowed to marry but not allowed to divorce. A good percentage of these marriages are between a teenage girl and an adult man. When it comes to child marriage laws, the U.S. is comparable to countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
National forced marriage statistics are hard to come by. In a survey of marriage licenses compiled by the organization Unchained At Last, at least 167,000 children under 18 were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010, and Between 2000 and 2015, over 200,000 minors were legally married. (That number is likely on the conservative side, as Unchained At Last could obtain age data from only 38 U.S. states.) Furthermore some of the most shocking numbers occur in states such as New Jersey, where 4,000 children were married between 1995 and 2012. 163 of which were between 10 and 15 years old. (new jersey has sense banned all child marriage) In Virginia, nearly 4,500 people under the age of 18 were married between 2004 and 2013. Nearly 90% of those marriages involved an adult spouse. From what I've read and researched for a child to be married the parents need to consent and a judge needs to give the ok but, what the child thinks doesn't really come into play. Usually these marriages are arranged by the parents, who are often deeply religious, and while the marriage is being set up by the parents and a judge the child often chooses not to speak up that they object, because if they try to keep the marriage from happening, they could be shunned by their family as well as their religious community. So most of these child marriages are also forced marriages. There's tons of stories from people all over the internet from survivors of marriages they were coerced into as minors. These stories are often full of abuse from the adult husband towards the underaged spouse where the girl can't get help due to how our laws work.
Helping children in forced marriages is murky territory for activists and social workers. A child who leaves home under the age of 18 is considered a runaway, meaning that social service organizations and shelters could face legal action for helping them.
On top of that, many of the resources that are available to adults in abusive marriages aren't available to named minors. In the United Slates, a person cannot Just remove the child from the situation — that could be considered kidnapping, punishable by up to life in prison. Child Protection Services also typically decline to get involved before a child is married, and after the marriage, they may no longer even have the authority to get involved.
As I alluded to before religion is an important factor that comes into play here. Most of the survivors of these forced child marriages come from tight religious circles. When you look at the list of countries where child marriage is most common at the top of the list are the heavily Islamic countries of Chad, Niger, Bangladesh, and Ginny. The jewish halakhah sets the minimum age for marriage at 13 for boys and 12 for girls. Catholic canon law allows marriage at 16 for boys and 14 for girls. In these tight religious circles the girl would never be able to tell authorities or get out of the marriage until shes at least 18. Even then if she divorced her husband she'd likely be banned from her community forever. Some things are being done to stop this by the organization "unchained at last" but their efforts and proposals have actually been turned down by several states. For example New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned marriage for teens under 18 in the state of new Jersey for the reason of "an exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions". After Chris Christie left office though the bill quickly progressed in new Jersey again, which is great, but the progress on the bill was obliterated completely again.
"And then Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin pulled A865 (the bill to raise the marriage age to 18 without exceptions) from me assembly agenda on May 24 2018, Just minutes before the assembly session"-unchained at last.
Gary shayer (an orthodox jew) was the one to convince Craig Coughlin to do this. It was only after all of this that the bill finally progress once more and was eventually passed. New Jersey isn't the only place people are trying to make a change though "Unchained has last has helped to write, introduce, and promote legislation in some two dozen U.S states to eliminate the human-rights abuse but so far only two states have ended all child marriage: Delaware, which did so in May 2018, and New Jersey which did so in June 2018.
“Two down. 48 to go."- unchainedatlast.com
Unchained at last, and various activists are making politicians and legislators in plenty of states aware of the flaws in our legislature, yet even when presented with the hanus statistics the bill is still not being passed due to trivial reasons that are not worth the amount of children that are stuck in violent and emotionally destructive marriages with absolutely no way out.
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