Jonathan Black, “Advocates Are Fighting to Outlaw Adult Marriages to Minors,” American Bar Association Journal (January 2018). The American Bar Association examines the campaign to end child marriage in the United States, speaking with advocates, lawmakers, and survivors working to end the practice. The advocacy of groups such as the Tahirih Justice Center has led three states to limit marriage to legal adults, and aims to affect similar change in several more states in 2018. Read more.
“Lawmaker Wants to Set Minimum Age for Child Marriage in Commonwealth,” WLKY News (January 3, 2018). Kentucky lawmakers are working to set a minimum age for child marriage in the Commonwealth, which currently does not set a limit on how old a child must be to be married. The legislation, which would require to be at least 17 years old and prove employment and independence in order to marry, is expected to move to committee hearings by February. Read more.
Gareth Lightfoot, “Couple Admit Illegally trying to Take their Children Abroad after Being Caught at Airport,” Gazette Live (January 11, 2018). Two parents have admitted to violating a forced marriage protection order by attempting to take their children out of the country, on a flight from Newcastle to Dubai last year. The couple claimed to have misunderstood the order, issued in January 2016 to prevent a forced marriage from occurring abroad. Read more.
Zac Anderson, “Florida Likely to Ban Child Marriage,” Sarasota Herald Tribune (January 11, 2018). A bipartisan push by state lawmakers looks likely to end the practice of child marriage in Florida. Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto’s bill to raise the state’s minimum age of marriage to 18 cleared its final Senate committee by a unanimous vote, while a companion house bill has one more committee to clear. Current law allows children of any age to marry under a pregnancy exception, and older children to marry with parental consent. Read more.
Marco Ortiz, “Prosecutor: Leaders of ‘Religious’ Group Married to Own Children,” Good4Utah (January 12, 2018). Two men charged with child kidnapping in Utah also allegedly married each other’s young daughters. “Sam married and took as a wife John’s 8-year-old daughter,” said a Sanpete County attorney, “John took as a wife Sam’s 8-year old daughter. Then they both allegedly married their own 4-year old daughters.” The alleged marriages were not recognized by the state of Utah. Read more.
Lizzie Dearden, “‘There Was Blood Everywhere’: Survivor among Hundreds Stopped in FGM Crackdown at Heathrow Airport,” The Independent (January 13, 2018). British law enforcement coordinated in a crackdown on Forced Genital Mutilation and Cutting at Heathrow Airport called Operation Limelight. The operation questions travelers arriving from countries where the FGM/C and related practices such as forced marriage are common, with the aim of identifying and assisting survivors and individuals at risk. Findings from Operation Limelight were shared with the American FBI and Homeland Security, who launched “Operation Limelight USA” across American Airports after visiting the team at Heathrow. Read more.
Dirk Gilson, “Forced at 15,” Al Jazeera (January 2018). Forced into marriage at 15, Nafissa now travels around her home country of Niger as an ambassador in the fight against child marriage. Niger has the highest rate of child marriage in the world, with nearly 80% of girls married before age 18. Al Jazeera profiles the increasing numbers of Nigerien girls and women who are fighting back, seeking to end the practice and provide aid to their peers facing forced marriage. Read more.
Adam Sexton, “NH Lawmakers Again Consider Raising Minimum Marriage Age,” (January 16, 2018). New Hampshire lawmakers have revived efforts to change state law allowing girls as young as 13 to be married. A bill to raise the minimum age to 18 stalled last year, in part over questions about minor spouses married to military service members. Several bills have been filed on the issue, with lawmakers expecting to combine them into a single law which will raise the minimum age of marriage to 16. Read more.
Cassidy Swanson, “Sununu Voices Support for Bill to Raise Marriage Age in NH,” WMUR (January 24, 2018). New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has come out in favor of a bill which would raise the minimum age of marriage in the state. In a letter to the House Children and Family Law Committee, Gov. Sununu encouraged legislation raising the minimum marriage age to 16, and requiring clear and convincing evidence for 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain a judge’s approval for marriage. Read more.
Morgan Loew, “Bill to End Child Marriage in Arizona Faces Obstacles,” AZ Family (January 25, 2018). While a child gets married every three days in Maricopa County, a bill to end child marriage in Arizona may not even be granted a hearing in the state senate. Under current state law there is no minimum age requirement for marriage. 16- and 17-year-olds only require a parent’s permission to marry, while anyone younger than 16 needs a judge’s approval. Read more.
Moni Basu, “Sherry Johnson Was Raped, Pregnant, and Married by 11. Now She’s Fighting to End Child Marriage in America,” CNN (January 30, 2018). Raped at 8 and pregnant at 10, Sherry Johnson was forced to marry her rapist at 11. Now, her unrelenting public pleas to end child marriage are being heard in Florida’s halls of power as she leads efforts to set the state’s minimum marriage age at 18. Read more.
Elizabeth Koh, “Raped at 8 and Forced to Wed at 11, This Woman Tries to End Child Marriage,” Miami Herald (February 1, 2018). For decades, Sherry Johnson remained silent about her repeated rapes and forced marriage as a young child. In 2012, spurred by a desire to make sure what she suffered would never happen to another child, she began pushing Florida lawmakers to close the loopholes that allowed her marriage to be recognized by the state. Her bill has now passed unanimously through Florida’s Senate, although its companion bill was amended to allow for some exceptions by a House committee. Read more.
“Florida: Child Marriage Ban Hits a Bump,” Human Rights Watch (February 5, 2018). After the Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill to end child marriage in the state, a House committee amended an identical bill to permit the marriage of pregnant 16- and 17-year-olds. The Florida Coalition to End Child Marriage has urged the House to remove this harmful amendment, and pass the bill as originally submitted. Read more.
Renate van der Zee, “The Hidden Scandal of U.S. Child Marriage,” The Guardian (February 6, 2018). Around the United States, survivors and advocates are working together to change state laws that allow for child marriage. The Guardian talks with the women leading this movement, including survivor-advocates from Florida and Kentucky, a girl scout in New Hampshire, and the head of an advocacy organization in New Jersey. Read more.
“There Are No States in the U.S. That Ban Child Marriage,” Vice News (February 9, 2018). An estimated 248,000 children were married in the United States between 2000 and 2010, with the majority of cases involving a young girl married to an older man. Despite these figures, no state has banned child marriage outright. Vice news met with state lawmakers and child marriage survivors to talk about their attempts to change current law. Read more.
Laura Bischoff, “Ohio Considers Raising Child Marriage Age after DDN Investigation,” Springfield News-Sun (February 13, 2018). Ohio state lawmakers have introduced a bill to set the state’s minimum marriage age at 17 for both boys and girls, and require 17-year-olds to obtain a court’s approval before marrying. Current law sets a minimum age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys, but allows for exceptions which leave the state with no effective age floor. Read more.
Brendan Farrington, “Florida House OKs Exceptions to Proposed Child Marriage Ban,” Associated Press (February 14, 2018). Following the Florida Senate’s unanimous passage of a bill to end child marriage in the state, the House carved out an exception to allow the marriage of pregnant 16- and 17-year-olds. Following an hour-long debate about whether to weaken the bill with the carve-out, Representatives passed the amended version by a vote of 108 to 2. Read more.
“Missouri Bill Advances to Set Limits on Child Marriages,” Associated Press (February 14, 2018). The Missouri House has advanced a bill, HB 1630, to ban all marriages of children under age 15 and require those aged 15-17 to obtain a judge’s approval before marrying. The bill also bans the marriage of anyone under age 17 to a partner aged 21 or older. Current law sets no absolute age floor. HB 1630 faces one more vote before being sent to the Senate. Read more.
David Adams, “Salvation Army Welcome Australian Initiative to Support Victims of Forced Marriage,” Sight Magazine (February 15, 2018). The Salvation Army has welcomed the Australian government’s announcement that survivors of forced marriage will have access to up to 200 days of support, regardless of whether they participate in criminal proceedings. The announcement of a 12-month trial of the initiative was made at a modern slavery seminar organized by the Salvation Army Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery and the Walk Free Foundation. Read more.
Laura Walters, “Marriage of Minors Bill Would Give Power to Courts, Not Parents, to Stop Forced Marriage,” Stuff.co.nz (February 15, 2018). Advocates who work with survivors of forced marriage have called for the New Zealand to raise its minimum marriage age to 18. The call was made during a committee hearing on New Zealand’s Marriage Amendment Bill, which would require 16- and 17-year-olds to gain a court’s approval to marry; current law requires only parental permission. Advocates argue that both current law and the proposed change leave children vulnerable to forced marriage. Read more.
Morgan Loew, “House Committee Passes Watered-Down Child Marriage Ban,” AZ Family.com (February 15, 2018). A bill to ban all marriage under 18 in Arizona was weakened by a House committee, and now allows marriage of 16- and 17-year-olds. Advocates are disappointed with the change, pointing out that in its amended form the bill would not protect the older teenagers who are most at risk of being forced into marriage by their parents. Read more.