Nick McCarthy, “Revealed: Police Secure Court Orders to Protect Victims of Forced Marriage,” Birmingham Mail (January 4, 2017). This article shares data on forced marriage prosecutions and protection orders from the West Midlands police in the UK. While they have received frequent requests for help related to forced marriage and have been able to obtain forced marriage protection orders, criminal prosecution has been challenging due to victims’ unwillingness to pursue charges against their family. Read More.
Brian Stieglitz, “Former Pakistani Child Bride Shares Story with Students,” Lynbrook Herald (January 5, 2017). This article tells the story of forced marriage survivor Naila Amin, who was forced into marriage overseas at age 15. After managing to escape and returning to the United States, Naila founded her own non-profit and she hopes to open a shelter for young women facing forced marriage. Read more.
Matthew Bell, “Germany is Taking a Harder Look at Child Marriage,” Jefferson Public Radio (January 6, 2017). German authorities are considering legislation to increase the minimum age of marriage, which currently allows family courts to grant permission to marry for minors aged 16 and 17. The article also tells the story of survivor advocate, Irina Bedawi, who has written a book about her experience of being forced into marriage at age 16 in Germany. Read more.
Frances Perraudin, “FCO Reviews Policy of Making Forced Marriage Victims Pay for Flights,” The Guardian (January 11, 2017). The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has announced that it will be reviewing its policy requiring victims of forced marriage overseas to repay the cost of their repatriation to the government. This move was announced after advocates from Muslim Women’s Network raised concerns about a 17 year old survivor who was forced to sign a loan agreement and surrender her passport in order to return to the U.K. Read here.
Australian Associated Press, “Muslim Cleric Accused of Performing Forced Marriage of Child Bride Sacked,” The Guardian (January 16, 2017). A cleric from Melbourne, Australia who allegedly performed a forced marriage of a minor has been removed from his post and has had his marriage license revoked. The Imam is charged with conduct that caused a minor to enter into a forced marriage. In response, the Board of Imams Victoria issued a statement condemning forced and child marriages. Read here.
May Bulman, “Denmark Bans Marriage for Under-18s after Report Suggests Dozens of Asylum Seeking Teens Arriving with Spouses,” The Independent (January 20, 2017). The Danish parliament has approved a bill prohibiting marriage under the age of 18 after a report revealed last year that there were several minors in the Danish asylum system who have spouses or registered partners. The bill also states that marriages of minors which took place abroad will be recognized in Denmark, with exceptions for those who can provide a “compelling argument” for their marriage. A number of legal experts and human rights groups in Denmark have criticized the new legislation, saying it doesn’t take the child’s best interest into consideration. Read more.
Ameila Pang, “Forced Marriage of Children Happens in America, Too” Truthdig (January 25, 2017). This article tells the story of forced marriage survivor, Naila Amin, and shares statistics from the Tahirih Justice Center demonstrating that many individuals in similar situations are not coming to the attention of service providers or receiving adequate protection. The article also includes information about U.S. age of marriage laws which fail to protect minors from forced marriage and statistics from Unchained at Last on child marriage in the United States. Read More.
“Forced Marriage” BBC – The Conversation (January 30, 2017). This radio piece features an interview with Jasvinder Sanghera from the U.K., and Fraidy Reiss from New Jersey. Both Sanghera and Reiss are survivors of forced marriage who have gone on to found their own organizations dedicated to serving survivors and raising awareness about forced marriage. Listen here.
Louise Aitken, “Training to Recognise Women Forced into Marriage in North-east” Evening Express (February 2, 2017). Police officers, teachers and mental health workers in Scotland are to receive mandatory training on how to spot survivors of forced marriage after a four-year study conducted by the Scottish Government found the need for an increase in the provision of services. The recommendation stems from information gathered on cases of forced marriage in six areas across the country. During that time, almost 200 cases were reported. Read More.
“No Child Brides Allowed in NJ, Senate Panel Says” NJ (February 7, 2017). The New Jersey state Senate committee has approved a bill increasing the age of marriage to age 18. If passed, the bill would make New Jersey the first state in the nation to remove all exceptions to the law that says people must be 18 years old to get married. Currently, New Jersey law allows 16 and 17 year-olds to marry with parental consent, and those under 16 to marry with judicial approval. Read more.
Will Schmidt, “Missouri Lawmakers Consider Bill to Raise Marriage Age from 15 to 17” Springfield News (February 8, 2017). In Missouri, legislation has been proposed to increase the minimum age of minors able to marry with parental consent from age 15 to age 17. Statistics show that 800 16-17 year olds and 100 15 year olds were married in Missouri since 2012. Read More.
Fraidy Reiss, “Why Does the US Still Let 12-year-old Girls Get Married?” Washington Post (February 10, 2017). Unchained At Last, a non-profit organization, founded to help women resist or escape forced marriage in the United States, found that in 38 states, more than 167,000 children were married mostly to men 18 or older. Despite these numbers, and despite the documented consequences of early marriages, some state lawmakers have resisted passing legislation to end child marriage because they fear that such measures may unlawfully stifle religious freedom. Read More.
Samra Zafar, “The Good Wife,” Toronto Life (February 17, 2017). This article shares the first-person account of Canadian forced marriage survivor Samra Zafar. After leaving her abusive husband, Zafar won a competitive scholarship to continue her graduate studies and founded a non-profit, Brave Beginnings. Read here.
Frances Perraudin, “UK Drops Repatriation Charges for Under-18s in Trouble Abroad,” The Guardian (March 3, 2017). The UK government has announced a change in policy which will mean that those under the age of 18 will no longer be required to repay the cost of their repatriation if facing a forced marriage overseas. Real more.
Lin Taylor, “Rise in Reports of Forced Marriage in UK Just ‘Tip of the Iceberg’: Activists,” Reuters (March 9, 2017). New data released by the Forced Marriage Unit in the UK shows an increase in the number of reported cases of forced marriage. Of the 1,400 cases reported, about a quarter involved children under 18 and most involved individuals taken overseas. Advocates stated that the statistics show increased awareness and a willingness to report, though the issue remains largely hidden. Read More.
Alison Thoet, “New Jersey Just Became the First State to Completely Ban Child Marriage,” PBS (March 14, 2017). In New Jersey, legislators have passed the first bill eliminating marriage for anyone under the age of 18 without exception. The legislation is waiting to be signed into law by the governor, and several other states are undertaking similar efforts to address the exceptions allowing child marriage to continue in the United States. Advocates from Tahirih Justice Center, Unchained at Last, and Girls Not Brides are quoted. Read More.
Diana Farid, “How Could I Help This Patient,” MD Magazine (March 20, 2017). A doctor writes about her experience serving a young woman who was highly monitored and isolated within her marriage. She writes about her experience in a poem called “Offline.” Read More.
David Churchill, “Revealed: Girl Aged Six among Victims of ‘Honour Crime’ in London” Evening Standard (April 7, 2017). Over the past five years, reports of “honour” violence have soared more than 40 per cent with 1,081 made to Scotland Yard, and those relating to forced marriages doubled in the same period, with 367 in total. Women and girls overwhelmingly form the majority of reported victims, with more than half coming from Asian backgrounds. Read More.
Trang Chu Minh, “Ending Child Marriage in the US, One State at a Time” Thomas Reuters Foundation News (April 7, 2017). New Jersey is poised to become the first US state to ban marriage before 18 in the coming months ahead of a list of close followers. While most US states set 18 as the minimum age for marriage, exceptions in every jurisdiction exist which allow children younger to wed, typically with parental consent or judicial approval. As a result of such legal loopholes, more than 167,000 children as young as 12 were married in 38 states in the US between 2000 and 2010. Read more.
Richard Vaughan, “Teachers Want More Training to Spot Signs of ‘Honour-based Abuse’” The Essential Daily Briefing (April 11, 2017). The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted in favor of giving their members better training and guidance to help them to recognize and report the practices to the authorities. It came as the ATL published a small survey, revealing that while more than 70 percent of respondents said they could spot FGM/C, just 48.2 per cent said they had been trained to deal with forced marriage. Read more.
Nicholas Jones, “New Legislation Aims to Protect Teenagers from Forced Marriage” Newstalk (April 13, 2017). In New Zealand, a bill designed to protect teenagers from forced marriages will go before Parliament soon. Currently in the country 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to marry with parental consent. This bill would change the consent requirements and require an application to be lodged to the court and the consent of a Family Court judge. The bill makes it very clear that forced marriage is not an arranged marriage where parents take a leading role in choosing a partner but ultimately the son or daughter has free choice. Read More.
Sian Norris, “The Good Side of a Bad Policy: Harsh Migration Law Blocks Forced Marriages” Politics.Co.Uk (April 20, 2017). The financial requirement for spousal visas has been heavily criticized since it was introduced in 2012 as it can prevent British citizens from bringing non-EU spouses into the country unless they earn £18,600 or more. While this may seem discriminatory, it has actually benefited women and girls facing forced marriage situations as very few 18-, 17- or 16-year-olds have the earning capacity to reach the required income threshold. Read More.
Ashitha Nagesh, “Thousands of Girls in the UK are Forced into Marriages Every Year – Here’s What You Can Do” Metro News (Apr 28, 2017). Between 5,000 and 8,000 cases of forced marriages occur in England every year, with nearly half of cases involving 16- to 25-year-old girls and women. Despite the prevalence of forced marriage in the UK, it is rarely discussed. Our Girl, a national forced marriage prevention and awareness campaign led by the Sharan Project, is looking to change that by calling on educational institutions to implement safeguarding practices. Read more.
Nicholas Kristof, “11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida” The New York Times (May 26, 2017). The New York Times speaks to Sherry Johnson, a woman who was forced into marriage at age 11 in Florida and is now advocating for the state to establish a minimum marriage age. Ms. Johnson was married to a member of her family’s conservative Pentecostal church in what she claims was an effort to prevent welfare authorities from investigating a series of rapes which resulted in her giving birth at age 10. Johnson’s efforts are part of a larger movement to end child marriage in the U.S. by raising, and in some cases establishing, state-level minimum marriage ages. Read more.
Sara Tasneem, “Child Marriage Laws in CA Act as Loopholes that Allow for Statutory Rape” The Daily Californian (May 30, 2017) In this op-ed, a Golden Gate University student describes how she was forced into a child marriage by her father. She argues that California state law, which permits minors to wed with parental consent, allows predators to marry and statutorily rape minors whose parents have forced them into marriage. Ms. Tasneem argues that to close this loophole, SB 273 must completely ban marriage to any person under age 18. Read more.
Claire Lewis, “Police Protect Two Sheffield Teenagers at Risk of Forced Marriage” The Star (May 31, 2017). Forced Marriage Protection Orders were issued for two Sheffield girls, aged 15 and 17, after Yorkshire Police presented evidence suggesting the teens were at risk of being forced to marry against their will. Figures from the Sheffield Council show that 18 children have been safeguarded over the last three years, allowing them to avoid marriages they believe they would have been forced into. Read more.
Daphne Bramham, “Breaking the Silence on Forced Child Marriages” Vancouver Sun (May 31, 2017). Mandy Sanghera, founder of the British government’s Forced Marriage Unit and a dual British-Canadian citizen, is in Vancouver to raise awareness about forced child marriages and to find champions for the cause. Canada does not track forced child marriages, but Ms. Sanghera estimates that rates of child marriage in the country are likely to be similar to those in the UK. Read more.
Carrie Healy, “Shocking Number of Children are Forced into Marriage in the US: Report” AOL.com (June 5, 2017). Between 2000 and 2010, date from 38 states indicates that 167,000 people under the age of 17 were married, according to a report by Unchained at Last. The group estimates that the number is much larger than this in reality, with an estimate of 248,000 child marriages. Texas leads with 34,793, followed by Idaho, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Read more.
Michael Wooten, “NY Senate Approves Bill to Raise Marriage Age,” WGRZ (June 7, 2017). The New York State Senate approved unanimously a bill to raise the minimum age of legal consent to marry to 17. The bill also increases the requirements to get married under 18. At least 3,850 children were married in New York between 2000 and 2010. Read more.
Nicholas Jones, “Forced Marriage Legislation Passes First Hurdle: ‘They End up as Slaves,’” New Zealand Herald (June 8, 2017). A law intended to protect teenagers from forced marriages passed the first round in Parliament. The law will require 16- and 17-year-olds who are slated to get married to get the approval of a family court judge; current practice is that the children only need parental consent. About 80 16- and 17-year-olds get married a year, and between 2002 and 2011 there were 798 young brides. Read more.
Lisa Foderaro, “Child Marriage is Sharply Curtailed by New York Legislature,” The New York Times (June 8, 2017). New York State is calling the wedding off for young teenagers in the state. While the state’s previous minimum marriage age had been set at 14, it will now be raised to prohibit marriage for any minor under age 17, and only allow 17-year-olds to marry with both parental consent and judicial approval. Read more.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro, “Advocates Work to End Child Marriage in the US,” NPR (June 11, 2017). NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with Sherry Johnson about being a child bride. They are joined by Fraidy Reiss of Unchained at Last, who discusses her work to end child marriage in the United States. Read or listen here.
Katelyn Cordero, “Governor Expected to Sign Child Marriage Ban,” Legislative Gazette (June 12, 2017). The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is expected to sign a bill that will ban marriage for children under 17 and require thorough court approval for marriages of minors age 17. Currently, children as young as 14 can get married. Read more.
Malcom Hornsby, “Florida Woman, Forced to Marry at Age 11, Now Pushing for New Child Marriage Law,” WTXL Florida (June 13, 2017). A Florida woman named Sherry Johnson was forced to marry her rapist at age 11 after having his child. Over the course of the next 7 years, she had 5 more children. At age 18, she divorced her husband. She is the founder of the Tamar Foundation, and is writing a book about her experiences. She wants to end child forced marriage in Florida. Read more.
Samantha Bee, “Child Brides,” Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (June 14, 2017). Samantha Bee hosts a segment about child marriage in the United States in the June 14 episode of Full Frontal. She addresses the hypocrisy of American policies on child marriage at home and abroad, and discusses the ongoing campaign to end the practice. Watch here.
Jan Ross Piedad, “Texas Has the Second-Highest Rate for Child Marriage in the US,” Texas Public Radio (June 14, 2017). Forced child marriage is most common in the Southern United States, with Texas second behind West Virginia. In Texas, parental consent must be received in order for 16- and 17-year-olds to marry, but a judge can approve a marriage at any age. SB 1705, which is awaiting a signature from the governor, would set the floor of marriage at 16 and would require a judge’s consent for marriages at 16 and 17. Read more.
Leah Scalzadonna, “Protesters Chain Together outside Assemblyman Bramnick’s Westfield Office to Oppose Child Marriage,” Tap into Westfield (June 14, 2017). Unchained at Last organized a protest outside of New Jersey Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick’s office in response to a compromise bill which would allow 16 and 17 year olds to marry in the state. A previous bill banning for all children under 18 was vetoed by Governor Christie; Unchained is calling on the Assembly to override this veto rather than passing the compromise bill. Read more.
Christina Cauterucci “Texas, the State with the Country’s Second-Highest Child Marriage Rate, Finally Bans It,” Slate (June 16, 2017). Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed into law a bill that will only allow minors to marry if they’re emancipated. In Texas, minors can only be emancipated at 16 and 17; therefore, the floor for marriage is set at 16. Texas has the second highest rate of child marriage in the nation. Although girls who marry under 19 are 50% more likely to drop out of high school than their peers, most states still allow child marriage. New Hampshire voted down a bill that would prevent child marriage under 18. Read more.
Sarah Rulz-Grossman, “Texas Just Banned Child Marriage,” Huffington Post (June 16, 2017). Texas, the state with the second highest rate of underage marriage in the U.S., has passed a law to make marriage under age 18 illegal. Previous law had allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with parental consent; the new law allows children of this age to marry only if they have been legally emancipated from their parents, thereby making them legal adults. Read more.
Jacquielynn Floyd, “An Unwilling Bride at 14, This Dallas Woman Helped Outlaw Child Marriages in Texas,” The Dallas Morning News (June 19, 2017). Trevicia Williams was in the ninth grade when her mother picked her up from school and drove her to the courthouse, where she was forced to marry a 26-year-old ex-convict whom she barely knew. After three years of abuse Trevicia took her daughter, left her husband, and never looked back. Now she has helped to outlaw child marriage in the state of Texas. Read more.
“New York Outlaws Child Marriage under 17,” Daily Mail (June 20, 2017). New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the bill that raises the age of consent for marriage from 14 to 18. 17-year-olds can get married with permission from parents and a judge. Read more.
Sonia Puzic, “Forced Marriage in Canada ‘More Prevalent’ than Thought: Ex-child Bride” CTV News (June 22, 2017). At 16, Samra Zafar left her home in the United Arab Emirates and moved to Ontario, where she was forced into a marriage with a 28 year-old man that lasted for over a decade. The marriage was rampant with abuse, but she managed to escape it and complete an education. Now, she advocates for young girls all across Canada. Read more.
Devin Tomb, “I Was Forced Into Marriage at Age 14,” Good Housekeeping (June 22, 2017). Thousands of American girls are married against their will every year. Good Housekeeping speaks with child marriage survivor Trevicia Williams, who helped change the law in her home state and is helping others work to do the same. Read more.
“U.S. States Seek to End Child Marriage,” The Stream on Al Jazeera (June 26, 2017). The movement to end child marriage in the United States is gathering steam. The Stream talks with advocates Jeanne Smoot of the Tahirih Justice Center and Fraidy Reiss of Unchained at Last, as well as Author Nicholas Syrett, and child marriage survivor and advocate Sara Tasneem. Watch here.
Lucy Draper, “Child Marriage in the US Is Still Happening Today,” Brides.com (June 28, 2017). Esther* was just 17 when she was married to a man her parents had chosen for her. The marriage quickly became abusive, and it was only after 10 years that she was able to leave her husband with the help of Unchained At Last. Brides.com tells Esther’s story, and of the ongoing campaign to end child marriage in the United States. *Name changed for confidentiality. Read more.
“Sweden to Toughen Legislation against Forced Marriage,” New Europe (July 3, 2017). Sweden is considering strengthening existing laws against forced marriage and FGM/C. The new legislation, modeled after existing laws in the UK and Denmark, would hold relatives of a girl taken abroad for FGM/C or forced marriage responsible for her as well as move the burden of safeguarding victims from municipalities to the state. Read more.
Marcos Ortiz, “Elissa Wall Seeks Civil Damages against Warren Jeffs” Good4Utah (July 3, 2017). Elissa Wall, child marriage victim and former member of FLDS, is suing Warren Jeffs, whom she claims is still “acting leader”. The hearing is to determine how much Jeffs will pay. Elissa was forced to marry her first cousin, who raped her. Read more.
“’Beyond Belief’: Family Services Accused of Ignoring Abused Teen Facing Forced Child Marriage,” Yahoo7 News (July 5, 2017). State family services in Sydney, Australia, reportedly ignored a young teenager who reported to her school that her parents were attempting to force her into a marriage. Around 70% of children who are at risk of serious harm in the region are not receiving face-to-face contact with caseworkers. Read more.
Daphne Bramham, “Child Brides’ Parents Need Jail Time as Punishment,” The Calgary Herald (July 5, 2017). Parents Brandon and Gail Blackmore drove their 13-year-old daughter to Utah in 2003 in order to witness her marriage to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints prophet, Warren Jeffs. At the time, he already had 80 wives. The parents are being sentenced to jail for removing their daughter from Canada for sexual purposes, a sentence made under a never-used section of Canadian criminal code that carries a penalty of up to 5 years. Read more.
Anjali Tsui, “In Fight over Child Marriage Laws, States Resist Calls for a Total Ban,” PBS Frontline (July 6, 2017). Around the United States a person must be at least 18 years old to marry of their own volition, but the laws of every state allow children to marry at younger ages with parental consent and/or a judge’s approval. Frontline takes stock of the campaign to close these loopholes and speaks with Nicole, a survivor of child marriage. Read more.
Anjali Tsui, “Child Marriage in America by the Numbers,” PBS Frontline (July 6, 2017). At first no one believed activists when they said that child marriage was rampant in the United States, but the laws of every state allow the practice in some form or another. Unchained at Last began surveying state marriage data to see just how frequently American children were married off, and the numbers were stunning; from 2000 to 2015 over 200,000 children were married in the United States. Read more.
Aqil Haziq Mahmud, “Singaporean Made Honorary MBE for Community Work in Wales,” Channel News Asia (July 6, 2017). Shereen Williams, a Singaporean woman who moved to the UK in 2005, was made an honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work against hate crime, extremism, and inequality in Wales. Part of her work involves aiding Muslim victims of forced marriages by providing counsel through the annulment and divorce process. Read more.
Jill Tucker, “Effort to Bar Child Marriage in California Runs into Opposition,” San Francisco Chronicle (July 6, 2017). Opinions in California are split as to whether those under age 18 should be able to legally marry. A bill was authored that set a strict age of 18 to marry, but amendments to the bill have set no age restriction and instead require that judges interview individuals privately. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU opposed the bill in its original form, while many survivors of child marriage argue that the amended bill is not enough. Read more.
Clemence Michallon, “Texas Woman Tells How She Was Forced to Marry a 26-year-old When She Was Just 14, Revealing her Husband Abused her, and Left her Homeless Before she Was Finally Able to File for Divorce at 17,” Daily Mail (July 7, 2017). Trevicia Williams was in ninth grade when her mother picked her up from school and took her to the courthouse to marry a 26-year-old ex-convict. After years of abuse, Trevicia was able to file for divorce at 17 and now advocates for the end of child marriage in the United States. Read more.
Mariah Timms, “Breaking from Made-up Religion, Sex-abuse Victim Finds her Voice,” USA Today (July 7, 2017). At 14-years-old, Darby McCarthy was forced into a religious marriage with her stepfather. The stepfather and abuser broke away from the Mormon religion in order to follow a more “pure” form; this was the tool her used to justify his and his wife’s sexual abuse of Darby. At 18, Darby told her father about the abuse and marriage, who brought her story to the police. Read more.
Amanda Abby Chase, “Utah Lawmaker Revises Bill to Raise Marriage Age,” The Daily Universe (July 11, 2017). Utah State Representative Gardiner is revising a bill on child marriage, changing the bill’s minimum age from 16 to 18. Gardiner worked with Tahirih Justice Center and discovered that child marriage primarily affects 16- and 17-year olds, and thus a bill which sets the minimum age to marry at 16 is not aiding victims of child marriage. Gardiner plans to add an exception of emancipation to the bill. Currently, a 15-year-old can marry in Utah with parental consent and the approval of a juvenile court, and 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with only parental consent. Read more.
Liz Crawford, “Senator Wants to Change FL Law on Child Marriage,” WTSP News (July 12, 2017). The story of Sherry Johnson, the Florida woman who was forced to marry her rapist at age 11 in 1971, has caught the attention of State Senator Wilton Simpson (R). The law which allowed Sherry’s tragedy to unfold remains on the books today, but Senator Simpson says he is looking to change that this year. Read more.
Tony Guillot, “Parents in Court Accused of Breaching ‘Forced Marriage’ Order by Trying to Take Children to Pakistan,” Gazette Live (July 13, 2017). In August 2016, a man and woman were accused of breaching a forced marriage protection order after trying to board a flight to Dubai with their 4 children aged four to fifteen. The protection order was issued in January 2016. The couple now appears in court. Read more.
Matt Jarram, “Suffering in Silence: How Honour-based Violence is Affecting Women in Notts,” Nottingham Post (July 16, 2017). In the past 12 months, there have been 42 cases of honour-based violence investigated, including 3 forced marriages. The police say that it happens in South Asian, Eastern European, Muslim, and African communities. Victims tend to be women aged 16 to 25. Read more.
Tessa Stuart, “How Afghan Rapper Sonita Alizadeh’s Song ‘Brides for Sale’ Changed Her Fate,” Rolling Stone (July 18, 2017). Sonita Alizadeh’s family considered selling her into marriage in order to pay for the dowry for her brother’s bride. The young Afghani woman and rapper wrote a song, “Brides for Sale,” in protest. The track went viral, and now, the high school senior is an advocate against child marriage. Her work helped her younger sister, who is not being pressured into marriage like the other daughters. Read more.
Sima Kotecha, “Gay British Asians Being ‘Forced into Heterosexual Marriages,’” BBC (July 19, 2017). West Midlands Police report that hundreds of LGBTQ+ individuals of South Asian descent are being pressured into heterosexual marriages. The Forced Marriage Unit said that 30 of its 1,428 cases in the past year involved LGBTQ+ people. Many go through with the marriages because they do not want to bring shame to their families. Khakan Qureshi, a Muslim queer man, runs an organization in Birmingham dedicated to helping queer Brits of South Asian descent find a voice. He states that Islam is “categorically” against forced marriage. Read more.
Travis M. Andrews, “For ‘Gifting’ Six Daughters as ‘Sex Slaves’ to Self-proclaimed Prophet, a PA Couple Will Go to Prison,” The Washington Post (July 20, 2017). Worried about losing their farm in Pennsylvania, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus sought financial help from a wealthy acquaintance named Lee Kaplan. In return for assistance, the couple “gifted” their teenage and prepubescent daughters to him as “wives,” forcing the girls into a life as sex slaves. Five years later a neighbor called the police; the parents and Mr. Kaplan will all now serve time for their crimes. Read more.
Sheradyn Holderhead and Tim Williams, “Parliamentary Inquiry Wants Schools to Teach Kids about Forced Marriage,” Perth Now (July 21, 2017). A parliamentary committee in Australia called for instruction on forced marriage in schools. Some schools in Australia have seen girls as young as 12 be forced into marriage. Some education experts, however, warn against teaching about such social issues in the curriculum as Australian schools are already falling behind the rest of the world. Read more.
Rachel Roberts, “New York State Raises Legal Age of Marriage from 14 to 18 in Bid to Prevent Forced Weddings for Child Brides,” The Independent (July 24, 2017). New York raised the legal age of marriage from 14 to 18. Anybody under 17 cannot enter into matrimony, and 17-year-olds must obtain parental and judicial approval in order to marry. More than 3,850 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010. Read more.
“250,000 Minors under 16 Married in US over Past Years: Report,” Press TV (July 23, 2017). According to a report, 250,000 youth under the age of 16 were married between 2000 and 2010. Only 25 out of 50 states have a set minimum age. In Massachusetts, girls as young as 12 can get married. In Texas, 9 out of every 1000 girls between 15 and 17 are married. The State Department said that it is its goal to reduce child and forced marriage; however, the problem still occurs in the state. Read more.
Fraidy Reiss, “Despite Progress, Child Marriage is Still Legal in All 50 States,” The New York Times (July 26, 2017). Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of Unchained at Last, discusses the ongoing campaign to eliminate child marriage in the United States. Despite recent progress in limiting the practice, child marriage remains legal in some form in all 50 states. Read more.
Vikram Dodd, “NSPCC Reports Large Rise in Forced Marriage Counseling for Children,” The Guardian (July 30, 2017). The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a charity which offers services to survivors of child abuse, is providing more counselling sessions than ever before to British children who fear being forced into marriages. Figures from the charity show that the number of counselling sessions it has provided have trebled over the last five years. Read more.
Marcus Costello and Elise Potaka, “It Happens Here: Underage Forced Marriage in Suburban Australia,” The Feed SBS (August 1, 2017). For decades, Australian children could be married off to much older partners against their will. Forced marriage was finally included in Australia’s criminal code in March 2013, but the practice continues today. In this brief documentary, The Feed explores the dynamics of forced child marriage in Australia. Watch here.
Zing Tsjeng, “The Woman Who Created a Game About Arranged Marriage to Get Out of Hers,” Vice (August 22, 2017). When Nashra Balagamwala began working on her board game, Arranged!, she didn’t expect that it would help her get out of an unwanted arranged marriage herself. Nashra fled to the United States to avoid the pressure to accept an arranged marriage at home in Pakistan. As the date of her return home drew near, Nashra began work on a board game which she hopes will help to facilitate conversations around the coercive nature of many arranged marriages. Read more.
Simone Worthing, “Global Lessons in Ending Forced Marriage,” Others Magazine (August 23, 2017). Others magazine speaks with Laura Vidal, winner of a grant to develop best practice solutions to address forced marriage in Australia. Ms. Vidal has been traveling the world, speaking with experts from countries ranking from Denmark to Sri Lanka about how Australia can best address the issue of forced marriage. Read more.
Melissa Jeltsen, “Grown Men Are Exploiting Loopholes in State Laws to Marry Children,” Huffington Post (August 30, 2017). A report released by the Tahirih Justice Center shows that over 200,000 children under 18 were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. While most states set a minimum age of 18 to marry, they typically allow exceptions if children have parental consent, or if a judge approves the union. The report highlights the challenges that child brides face, and how difficult it can be for them to escape a marriage if they want to do so. Read more.
Nurith Aizenman, “The Loopholes That Allow Child Marriage in the U.S.,” NPR (August 30, 2017). A report released by the Tahirih Justice Center sheds new light on how state laws contribute to the problem of child marriage in the U.S. The report goes state-by-state, laying out the loopholes and protection gaps which make it difficult to ensure that a child isn’t being forced into a marriage by her own family or an adult partner who, but for the marriage, may be subject to prosecution for statutory rape. Read more.
Heather Cobun, “Report: Maryland Marriage Laws Make Forced Child Marriage More Likely,” The Daily Record (August 30, 2017). Maryland’s marriage laws contain several loopholes which can make forced child marriage more likely, according to a new report from the Tahirih Justice Center. While the state does set a minimum age for marriage, no official proof of age is necessary to obtain a marriage license, pregnancy can lower the age of marriage to include minors, and clerks rather than judges are able to approve marriage licenses. Read more.
Claire Lewis, “Rotherham Girl Saved from Forced Marriage Abroad,” The Star (September 1, 2017). A girl was saved from being forced into a marriage abroad after two police officers identified her as being at risk, and took steps to prevent her from being taken out of the United Kingdom. She is now receiving support and protection. South Yorkshire police officers have received specialist training to help them identify potential signs of forced marriage, and posters have been placed at the Doncaster Sheffield Airport to encourage at-risk persons to report their concerns. Read more.
Ashley Belanger, “Child Marriage in the United States, Explained,” Teen Vogue (September 5, 2017). In the first article in a Teen Vogue series about child marriage in the United States, Teen Vogue examines the ways in which states’ laws approach the issue of minors getting married. They go through the evolution of state laws on marriage and the age of consent, and discuss how the practice of child marriage has changed through the United States’ history. Read more.
Ashley Belanger, “Child Marriage in the U.S., Explained by a Former Child Bride,” Teen Vogue (September 6, 2017). Teen Vogue speaks with Trevicia Williams, a former child bride, as part of their series on child marriage in the U.S. Texas, the state in which Trevicia was married at age 14, passed new legislation this year prohibiting marriage for any non-emancipated minor. Trevicia was a key activist in pushing for this legislation, and continues to push for change in other states. Read more.
Ashley Belanger, “Child Marriage and Religion in the United States,” Teen Vogue (September 7, 2017). In May, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill which would have ended legal child marriage in his state, in part because he believed it would violate some religious customs. As part of their series on child marriage in the U.S., Teen Vogue examines the relationships of various faiths to the issue of child marriage. Read more.
Allison Horn, “Kidnapped Woman Reports Forced Marriage to Alleged Abductor in Las Vegas,” KGTV ABC News (September 7, 2017). A California woman was allegedly kidnapped and forced to marry her estranged boyfriend at a Las Vegas wedding chapel, according to police. The woman was coerced into marrying her alleged kidnapper, finally agreeing to do so in exchange for being allowed to call her children. Authorities have arrested her alleged kidnapper and annulled the marriage. Read more.
Ashley Belanger, “Child Marriage and Divorce in the United States,” Teen Vogue (September 8, 2017). As part of its series on child marriage in the United States, Teen Vogue examines the relationship between marriage and divorce law when it comes to minors. As marriage is legally considered a contract, and in most states contracts can only be entered into by adults, divorce laws are often written under the assumption that only adults could need a divorce. This can leave minors legally trapped in a potentially abusive marriage until they turn 18 and gain the ability to file for divorce. Read more.
Michelle Konstantinovsky, “State Laws Still Allow Child Marriage in America,” How Stuff Works (September 8, 2017). Child marriage happens in every corner of the U.S., regardless of state politics, popular opinion, or moral leanings. It happens more often than most people realize, and to children younger than you may think. How Stuff Works breaks down How Child Marriage Works, and the campaign to end the practice in the U.S. Read more.
Kaya Callahan, “This Teen Launched a Campaign to End Child Marriage in the U.S.,” Teen Vogue (September 9, 2017). Fifteen-year-old Kaya Callahan started the #StillAGirl campaign to help urge lawmakers to end child marriage in the United States. As part of Teen Vogue’s ongoing series on child marriage in the U.S., Kaya talks about child marriage, the campaign to end it, and how citizens can contact their state lawmakers to help bring the practice to an end. Read more.
Natalie Short, “NC Laws Lead to Higher-than-average Child Marriage Rates,” Daily Tarheel (September 14, 2017). Census data reveals that North Carolina state laws, which allow pregnant girls as young as 14 to marry, may have contributed to an above average rate of child marriage in the state. North Carolina does not keep statewide data on issued marriage licenses, making it difficult to estimate exactly how many children have been married in the state. Read more.
“In Conversation with Jasvinder Sanghera CBE,” Desi Outsiders Podcast (September 14, 2017). Jasvinder Sanghera is a UK-born Sikh-Indian who narrowly escaped a forced marriage by running away at the age of 16. In Episode 46 of the Desi Outsiders Podcast, hosts Meenal and Ankita sit down with Jasvinder to talk about her own experience, and her subsequent activism to help those at risk of facing forced marriages of their own. Listen here.
Fiona David, “Why Forced Marriage?” Thomson Reuters Foundation (September 19, 2017). The International Labor Organization and Walk Free Foundation recently launched the inaugural Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, and have critically chosen to include forced marriage within their definition of modern slavery. Ms. David, of the Walk Free Foundation, explains that by including forced marriage within the Global Estimate they hope to prompt urgently needed action by world leaders to address the problem. Read more.
Sian Napier and Paul Hooper, “Margate Schoolgirl Told Teacher of her Forced Marriage Ordeal, Court Hears,” Kent Online (September 21, 2017). In the first case of its kind in Kent, a father has denied forcing his 16-year-old daughter to marry her cousin in Pakistan. In early 2016, the girl emailed a teacher saying she wanted to talk to her, but was frightened of the repercussions. The forced marriage had allegedly taken place in 2015, while the girl and her family were on a trip to Pakistan to attend a family funeral and the wedding of the girl’s sister. Read more.
Hanna Love, Sino Esthappan, Meredith Dank, and Janine Zweig, “The Complexities and Challenges of Researching Forced Marriage in the U.S.,” Urban Institute Justice Policy Center (October 2017). The issue of forced marriage in the remains understudied and poorly understood, particularly in the United States. The Urban Institute, in collaboration with the Tahirih Justice Center, helped to fill this literature gap with a preliminary examination of forced marriage in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This brief discusses the methods used and difficulties encountered during that examination. Read more.
Talia Soglin, “Minimum Marriage Age Takes Effect,” Yale Daily News (October 4, 2017). A new state law raising the minimum age for marriage in Connecticut took effect on October 1. The law establishes 16 as the minimum marriage age in the state, which previously had no legal minimum age. Legislation to set the minimum age at 16 unanimously passed both chambers of the state legislature this spring. Read more.
Rod Nordland, “Brought Together by Pain, 3 Girls Forced into Marriage Have New Dreams,” The New York Times (October 6, 2017). The New York Times tells the story of three women, friends who met in a women’s shelter in Kabul and were brought together by their traumatic pasts. Each of them escaped a forced marriage as a child, is lucky to be alive, and knows it. Each of them has big dreams – despite what has happened, and because of it. Read more.
Heather Cobun, “MD Delegate, Child Marriage Opponents, Gather in DC,” The Daily Record (October 12, 2017). Advocates for eliminating laws that allow children to be married as young as 12 met in Washington, DC this week to discuss child marriage, an issue that has gained traction in the Maryland General Assembly in recent years. One of the panelists was Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, who has introduced legislation to eliminate Maryland’s exceptions that allow for child marriage in the state. Read more.
Franz Stasser and Ashley Semler, “Why Does the U.S. Have so Many Child Brides?” BBC News (October 23, 2017). While countries including Zimbabwe, Malawi, and El Salvador have recently banned child marriage, the practice remains legal in the United States – half of states set no minimum age for marriage. The BBC explores the practice, speaking to survivors and advocates as a part of BBC’s America First? series exploring health and social issues in the world’s richest country. Watch here.
Associated Press, “Woman Who Married at 11 Seeks to Change Florida Marriage Law,” U.S. News and World Report (October 24, 2017). Sherry Johnson was 11 years old when she was forced to marry her rapist through a loophole in Florida law that doesn’t set a minimum age for the marriage of a pregnant girl. Nearly five decades later the loophole still exists, and Johnson is working to eliminate it. Read more.
Danielle Deavens, “Afghanistan Has Stricter Child Marriage Laws than This U.S. State,” Brides (October 24, 2017). While countries including Zimbabwe, Guatemala, and Malawi have banned child marriage in the past three years, marriage under 18 remains legal in all 50 states. U.S. laws fall short for two main reasons: each state has slight variations in how they regulate marriage age; and there are a numerous loopholes which set minimum ages as low as 13, or in many cases fail to set any minimum age. Read more.
Julia Glum, “Florida is Trying to Close ‘Dangerous’ Legal Loopholes that Allow Children to Get Married,” Newsweek (October 25, 2017). The Sunshine State has taken a step toward ending child marriages, as a bill to eliminate dangerous loopholes was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The progress was welcomed by activists, who aim to close loopholes which allow 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with their parents’ consent, or children of any age to marry if they are pregnant and get a judge’s approval. Read more.
Michelle Yu, “Tightening Maryland’s law to stop underage marriage [Commentary],” The Baltimore Sun (October 26, 2017). Advocates from the Tahirih Justice Center found that from the years 2000 to 2015 more than 3,200 minors were wed in the state of Maryland. Howard County state Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary introduced bills to raise the minimum age of marriage to age 18 in 2016 and 2017. Despite past defeats of these bills, she is continuing her efforts to protect children in Maryland from child marriage with plans to introduce a new bill in 2018. Read more.
“Government To Do More against 300 Forced Marriages a Year,” Swiss Info (October 31, 2017). The Swiss government plans to step up its fight against forced marriages, following a new report that found over 900 forced marriages had occurred in the country since 2015. While the government outlawed the practice and launched a federal program against it in 2013, the program’s activities were heavily concentrated in the cities of Bern and Zurich. Read more.
Whitney Wild, “Should it Be Legal for a 15-Year-Old to Get Married in MD,” WUSA 9 (October 31, 2017). About 5,300 minors got married in Maryland between 1995 and 2015, according to the Maryland Department of Health. WUSA 9 explores the results of child marriages by profiling two couples who went through them, and speaks with experts including Tahirih’s Jeanne Smoot about Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary’s efforts to pass legislation ending the practice. Read more.
Michelle Chen, “About Half of U.S. States Set No Minimum Age for Marriage,” The Nation (November 2, 2017). Almost half of U.S. states set no legal minimum age for marriage, and most remaining states provide weak oversight of the legal exceptions that fail to protect minors. The Nation examines the state of child marriage laws in the United States, as laid out in a recent report by the Tahirih Justice Center. Read more.
Joe Dana, “Warren Jeffs’ 65th Wife Transforms Compound into Social Services Shelter,” NBC 12 News (November 11, 2017). Like many women raised in Colorado City’s FLDS church, Briell Decker was coerced into plural marriage with Warren Jeffs when she was 18 years old. She escaped the sect when she was 26, and when Jeffs was convicted of child sexual assault in 2011, his 3-acre compound was legally transferred to her. Decker has now gifted the property to the Phoenix Dream Center. Read more.
Fraidy Reiss, “Moore Case Spotlights a Risk to Young Girls,” CNN Opinion (November 15, 2017). While many Americans are shocked at the multiple allegations of Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore’s sexual abuse of young girls, and by many Alabamians’ continued support for the candidate, Fraidy Reiss points out an awkward truth about the United States. Child marriage – often legalized child rape – still happens at an alarming rate all across the country. Read more.
Rick Outzen, “Ending Child Marriages,” Inweekly (November 16, 2017). Florida has the second highest rate of child marriages in the United States, with 80% of such marriages involving minor girls marrying adult men. The Tahirih Justice Center is leading the effort to end child marriage across the country and Jeanne Smoot, Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy at Tahirih, spoke with Inweekly about the campaign to end child marriage in the state and the challenges Florida minors face when attempting to resist or escape forced or coercive marriages. Read more.
Howard Fischer, “Arizona Lawmaker Wants to Outlaw Marriage for Those Younger than 18,” Tucson.com (November 27, 2017). A new proposal by Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, seeks to prohibit the state from issuing a marriage license to anyone under age 18. Under current law, minors aged 16 or 17 can marry with the permission of a parent, and a child of any age may marry with approval from a Superior Court. According to Tahirih Justice Center, Arizona is one of over half of US states with no absolute minimum marriage age. Read more.
Gethin Chamberlain and Kate Lumsden, “Married at 14 after Losing Everything to the Climate: Rute’s Story,” News Deeply (November 29, 2017). Illustrator Kate Lumsden and journalist Gethin Chamberlain tell the story of Rute Fumulani, forced to marry at 14 after losing her parents to catastrophic flooding. Told in Rute’s own words, this series of illustrations were commissioned as part of a reporting project investigating the effects of climate change on rates of child marriage called Brides of the Sun. Read more.
Editorial, “The Guardian View on Child Marriage: Wedlock is a Padlock for Girls,” The Guardian (November 29, 2017). From the United States to Bangladesh, underage brides are likely to leave education and face increased risk of poverty, domestic violence, and high rates of maternal mortality. Wedlock is a trap for children; good laws must be written and underlying causes addressed in order to free them. Read more.
Namrata Joshi, “How a Child Bride Became South India’s First Woman Taxi Driver,” The Hindu (December 4, 2017). Forced into what became a violent and abusive marriage at age 14, Selvi escaped and has become India’s first female taxi driver. She is the subject of Driving with Selvi, a documentary chronicling her journey out of violence which has traveled to over 100 film festivals around the world. Read more.
Francine LeFrak, “Child Marriage is an Affront to Women’s Empowerment, Huffington Post (December 6, 2017). The umbrella of solidarity provided by the #MeToo campaign and TIME magazine’s Person of the Year is a wave of empowerment that must not forget the young girls in our country. To empower women, LeFrak writes, we must begin with survivors of child marriage. We must call child marriage what it is – a contract conducive to extreme duress, harassment, and rape for at risk minors. Read more.
“Child Marriage Has Become Less Common in America. But it Still Exists,” The Economist (December 7, 2017). The United States has always allowed child marriage. Despite falling rates of child marriage in the country, 207,000 minors were married from 2000 to 2015 including nearly 1,000 aged 14 or younger. Surprisingly, opponents of a ban on child marriage can be found across the political spectrum, even as the bipartisan campaign to prohibit the practice gathers steam. Read more.
Laura C. Anderson, “Escaping Forced Marriage in the DRC to Pursue a Dream: Portrait of a Young Immigrant Congolese Woman,” Huffington Post (December 11, 2017). Asha was told she was to marry a 55 year old man she’d never met. Fearing she would share the fate of her older brother, who had been poisoned after refusing a forced marriage a year prior, Asha fled to the United States. She now lives in Maine, where she is enrolled in a pre-engineering program. Read more.
Elijah McKenzie, “From Child Brides to Human Trafficking, U of L Event Tries to Raise Awareness of ‘Everyday Citizens,’” Insider Louisville (December 12, 2017). A conference held at the University of Louisville sought to raise awareness of the intersectional forms of exploitation faced by women, children, immigrants, and LGBT youth. Speakers, including keynote speaker Jeanne Smoot of Tahirih Justice Center, highlighted a variety of harms such as domestic violence, sexual assault, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Read more.
Lekshmi Priya S., “Watch: Created by Minor Girls, This Film on Child Marriage Will Open Your Eyes!” The Better India (December 13, 2017). Project Lightbulb, an initiative of the Protsahan India Foundation, included workshops on photographs, baking, computers, and filmmaking, and culminated with the production of Fireflies. The film – written, produced, directed, edited, and acted by the girls – brings attention to the issue of child marriage in India. Read more.
Victoria Craw, “Victims of Forced Marriage Failing to Come Forward, Report Finds,” News.com.au (December 14, 2017). A new report by Laura Vidal, the Salvation Army’s forced marriage specialist, has found that vulnerable individuals often do not report impending forced marriages or disengage shorty after accessing services. Vidal found that many individuals do not reach out for help because they do not want to risk criminal punishment of family members, but Australia’s system requires them to engage with Federal Police in order to access services. Read more.
Michael O’Regan, “New Offence of Forced Marriage to be Introduced by Minister,” The Irish Times (December 15, 2017). Domestic violence legislation introduced by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan provides a new criminal offence of forced marriage. The new offence will apply to any case in which a person is forced to marry without consent, or where consent is given under emotional, physical, sexual, or financial pressure. The bill will also cover forced marriages conducted outside of Ireland, and will repeal all existing provisions which allow minors under 18 to marry. Read more.