Clare Turner, “Bedfordshire Police: Man Arrested for Pressuring Woman into Marriage,” Bedfordshire Today, (December 7, 2022). On November 29th in Bedfordshire, England, a man in his twenties was charged with eight offenses in relation to forced marriage. These offenses include coercion, strangulation, and assault. This was the first forced marriage charge the Bedfordshire police has ever encountered. Read more.
Alexandra Weaver, “The West Virginia Democratic Party Sent a Press Release Monday Claiming ‘Today, in the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary, Senator Robert Karnes Argued that the Spouses of Child Brides Could Not be Criminally Charged for Sexual Contact Involving Forcible Compulsion,’” 12 WBOY, (December 5th, 2022). The West Virginia laws regarding forced sexual contact allows an exception for people who are married. This law was raised in the Senate’s Standing Committee on Judiciary Meeting, where Monogalia County Prosecuting Attorney Perry DeChristopher advocated for removing the exception for married individuals. In her argument, she stated she was worried about the intersection of this law with West Virginia’s child marriage laws which sometimes permit children younger than sixteen to be married- as married children may be especially at risk of unwanted forced sexual contact. State Senator Robert Karnes rebutted with several arguments, one of which being that sexual conduct is implicitly a part of marriage so anyone entering a marriage would typically have the expectation of this behavior. The Democratic Party subsequently released the statement in the title, and Senator Karnes responded by saying the hard left is continuing to spread “lies and distortions.” Read more.
Joseph Wilson, “Spain Government Presents Bill to Fight Human Trafficking,” Associated Press, (November 29, 2022). A new bill was presented in Spain to protect economically vulnerable migrants that are at risk of trafficking. The types of trafficking under the umbrella of this bill include sexual exploitation, forced labor, the illegal organ market, involuntary marriages, and other criminal activities. The bill provides migrants deemed at risk by the courts free and personalized legal assistance and the ability to seek for financial aid. These individuals would not be required to accuse anyone involved in trafficking as to encourage victims/potential victims to seek assistance without fear of retribution of opposing parties. The national police force will also create a new office devoted to these issues. Read more.
Jen Kiaba, “I Agreed to an Arranged Marriage with a Stranger. It Turned my Life Upside Down,” HuffPost Personal, (November 11, 2022). Jen Kiaba was raised in the Unification Church in the New York. At 19, her parents pressured and coerced her into an arranged marriage set up by their church leader Reverend Moon who was believed to be the Messiah. She had no opportunity to reject this marriage, and it took her two years of fighting to finally end the marriage. Doing so caused her to lose her community and identity which she had to rebuild from the ground up. She now has a master’s degree in the psychology of coercive control, is an award-winning photographer, and is happy married with a growing family. Read more.
Jedidiah McKeehan, “Suing Someone Because they Forced You to Marry,” The Knoxville Focus, (November 7, 2022). Knox county attorney Jedidiah McKeehan explains and analyzes the laws regarding forced marriage in Tennessee. As he analyzes the civil code regarding forced marriages, he discusses the nuances and the difficulties that may come if one was to pursue a lawsuit. He also shares what can be gained in such a lawsuit. Read more.
Opinion: Kat Stellpflug, “Where’s the Outrage at Child Marriage?” WiscNews, (November 1, 2022). Among all the violations against children in the United States, the one we hear about the least is child marriage. However, it is very prevalent and damaging. It’s easy to blame child marriage on “fringe religious cults” or developing countries but in fact, it is happening here in 43 states that allow it and within Christian families. In the U.S., more than 300,000 girls were married since 2000. There is no good reason a child should be married and we should be more outraged about this issue. Read more.
Rebecca Boone, “Idaho Supreme Court Won’t Weigh Legality of Child Marriage,” The Telegraph, (October 21, 2022). Recently, a case regarding child marriage was taken up with the Idaho Supreme Court. The case involved a divorced couple fighting for custody for their teenage daughter, especially as the father wanted to move to Florida and take her with him. In order to get full custody, the father arranged for his daughter to marry so she could be emancipated and not be in custody of her mother. This case has been ongoing for several months, but once it reached the Supreme Court they declined on making a decision. Read more.
“Stranger than Fiction: Woman Kidnapped Twice, Forced to Marry at Age 12” News Nation, Banfield, (October 20, 2022). News Nation conducted an interview with Jan Broberg, a woman from Idaho who was kidnapped and forced to marry her kidnapper at age 12 and kidnapped again at 14. In this interview, she emphasizes the lengths perpetrators will go to groom individuals and families to make abuse, kidnapping, and forced marriage real. There is a Netflix documentary regarding her experience titled “Abducted in Plain Sight,” but she is now producing her own Peacock series regarding the situation to better demonstrate the subtle grooming tactics a perpetrator can use. Watch here.
“Disobeyed: Elissa Wall’s Journey to Reclaim her Body,” Embodied Podcast, (October 14, 2022). On this podcast episode, American ex-FLDS survivor Elissa Wall shares her experience about her upbringing and experiences with religious trauma, forced marriage at 14, sexual assault, and emotional abuse. The FLDS community is a hub of polygamist, forced, and child marriages. Elissa continues to share how she adjusted to life outside of the FLDS church and her process of healing from her traumatic childhood. Listen here.
“Doctors Detect Slavery and Prevent Forced Marriage,” The Tea Room, (September 27, 2022). In this medical podcast, Professor Byrnes discusses the issue of forced marriage in Australia in depth. Professor Byrnes was the Anti-Slavery Commissioner and is now the director of Anti-Slavery Australia. She shares the prevalence of forced marriage in the country, the laws around it, how it works, who it affects, and what doctors can do to recognize the signs of it. She even shares an experience of a doctor doing so and preventing a forced marriage of a young girl. Her organization provides free legal service to anyone potentially facing a forced marriage. Listen here.
Claudia Calleja, “One Child a Year Gets Legally Married in Malta,” Times of Malta, (October 6, 2022). Maltese law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to get married, and the country has seen an average of one child getting married every year. Malta is similar to most EU countries with a law of marriage at 18 with some exceptions, only Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands fully ban child marriage. Advocates fear that these numbers are under representative as some young girls are taken out of the country for marriage. Read more.
Rachel Baye, “Here’s a Snapshot of New Maryland Laws on the Books,” NPR, WYPR – 88.1 FM Baltimore, (September 30, 2022). Among several other laws, today in Maryland a child marriage law went into effect. This law moves the minimum age of marriage from fifteen to seventeen. Additionally, to allow a seventeen-year-old to get married they must be assigned an attorney to petition the court, the child must be the actual petitioner rather than a parent, and the judge must determine it is in the best interest of the child. They are also now permitted to have a divorce instead of waiting until eighteen. This bill has been in the works for seven years. Read more.
Ben Winslow, “Warren Jeffs on Trial Again for Abuses Within FLDS Church,” Fox 13, (September 27, 2022). The two-day trial against Warren Jeffs over allegations of fraud and trafficking ended today (the 27). Witnesses described forced marriages and child rape as well as conditions of extreme poverty and hunger. Survivors Ruby Jessop and Briell Decker describes in detail their experiences in the FLDS community of child marriage, rape, losing identification records, and being separated from their children. Read more.
Emily Griffiths, “A New Law is Set to Raise the Minimum Age to Marry from 16 to 18,” Nantes, (September 27, 2022). The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act of 2022 recently received Royal Assent after it’s original creation in April. It is expected to come into effect in February of next year. This act takes it an offense to do anything to cause a child to marry before age 18 with no need to prove a form of coercion was used. It also encompasses marriages not legally binding (traditional or community marriages) and marriages in which children were taken abroad for. The parents who facilitate or transport their child for marriage will face up to seven years in prison and a fine. Read more. Read the bill itself here.
Laura Colvin, “After Years of Abuse and Isolation, Plymouth Woman Finds Her Voice and Builds a Dream,” Hometown Life, (September 27, 2022). Mia Odeh was 16-years-old when she was forced to marry a man twice her age in Pakistan. He immediately took her with him to the United States to build a life together where she was constantly abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. For thirteen years she suffered and gave birth to five children until she finally managed to get help from the police and separated from her husband. While she struggled to get on her feet with her children, eventually she became a successful businesswoman and wrote a book about her experiences. Read more.
Richard Ault, “Hundreds of Victims Ask for Help After Fleeing Honour-Based Abuse,” Wales Online, (September 26, 2022). As the pandemic has dwindled, Karma Nirvana (A UK-based domestic violence organization) has shared some of their data from the year ending in March 2022. In that year 2,274 people have faced some form of honor-based abuse, with 890 of those callers looking to flee the honor-abuse, forced marriage, or domestic abuse. This has increased dramatically as lessening pandemic restrictions allow more mobility for escape. 5% of callers were threatened with forced marriage overseas, another 4% were threatened with marriage in an unknown location, and 3% were already in the forced marriage. Read more.
Daphne Bramham, “Women at Risk as Jailed Pedophile Prophet Aims for FLDS Revival,” Vancouver Sun (September 21, 2022). Imprisoned FLDS prophet Jeff Warren recently claimed to have a revelation that all expelled people from the religion should repent, be rebaptized, and recommit to following him. This “revival” of the faith has issued that the women of the community must submit photos of themselves along with personal data, presumably so the prophet may have “revelations” on who they should marry. Women in the FLDS community have recently experienced a degree of freedom due to the imprisonment of their leader and other prominent members of the FLDS faith, but that freedom is at risk again with this movement. They are also at increased risk as they go online looking for friendship, the people they meet could be dangerous and if anything happens to these women their community would not act because they’ve been labeled apostate. Read more.
“New Details Emerge in Death of Two Sisters in Canterbury Apartment,” Hit.com/au (September 20, 2022). Two girls, Asra Abdulla Alsehi (age 24) and her sister Amal (aged 23) were found dead in their Sydney, Australia apartment on June 7. New information from the investigation has been revealed, exposing that these girls had recently been rejected from Australian permanent protection visas the months prior to their deaths. They had been fleeing danger in Saudi Arabia due to one sister’s sexuality and the other sister’s potential forced marriage as well as being atheist. The sisters feared for their safety even in Australia, as they were afraid of a hostile relative and believed they were being followed. The investigation has not yet concluded. Read more.
Zvamaida Murwira, “New Marriages Act Comes Into Operation,” The Herald (September 20, 2022). The New Marriage Act in Zimbabwe was put into operation on the 16th by President Mnangagwa. Among many other laws, this act asserts the constitutional requirement that 18 is the minimum age to be married and both parties must freely agree to the marriage. Those involved in under-age and forced marriages will face criminal charges and jail terms up to five years, though the the child or forced partner to a marriage is exempt from prosecution. Read more.
“Polygamist Sect at Center of Reality TV Show Accused of Child Abuse, Forced Marriage,” Radar (September 19, 2022). The Kingston Group, a Utah-based polygamous group is facing accusations of sexual abuse and forced marriage. This suit was filed by 10 former members of the group, with one plaintiff detailing that she was sexually abused between the ages 5-15, forced to do unpaid labor on the sect’s behalf, and eventually forced to marry one of her cousins. Read more.
Stephanie Balloo, “Woman ‘Fleeing Forced Marriage Threatened with Acid at City Hostel,” Birmingham Live (September 18, 2022). Successful businesswoman Nigina Akram fled a forced marriage in London, UK by escaping to a nearby women’s shelter. She lived in 10 different shelters in the span of five months, constantly moving due to repeated stalking by neighbors, abuse, and violence within each shelter. Eventually she fully escaped by bidding on a property and moving into a home with the support of a public benefit entity. Read more.
Jennifer Brookland, “Michigan Laws on Child Marriage, Corporal Punishment Earn an F from Rights Group,” Detroit Free Press (September 13, 2022). A new scorecard from Human Rights Watch gives Michigan an F for how well the state protects children. The grade is based on the fact that the state allows child marriage, has not outlawed corporal punishment, and lacks protections for children entering the juvenile justice system. Read more.
Rhianwen Watkins, “Cassie Levesque Changed NH Marriage Law. Now She’s Getting Recognition in TV Series, Book,” Foster’s Daily Democrat (September 9, 2022). New Hampshire state representative Cassie Levesque is being profiled in a new docuseries and book, focusing on her work to limit child marriage in the state. Rep. Levesque’s work on the issue began when she was just 15 years old, and took on the issue of child marriage in New Hampshire as a Girls Scout Gold Award project. After working with her local representative to pass a limit on child marriage in 2018, Levesque was herself elected to office at age 19 and is now working to pass a new law ending child marriage entirely. Read more.
“Bill Raising the Legal Age to Get Married in Alaska Becomes Law,” KINY Radio (September 6, 2022). A new Alaska law has raised the state’s minimum marriage age from 14 to 16, while also preventing minors from being married to a partner more than three years older than themselves and requiring any minor who wishes to marry to either be emancipated or have the marriage approved by a judge. Responding to the new law, advocate Dawn Tyree noted that “Raising the age to marry from 14 to 16 is a step in the right direction,” but also challenged legislators to go further and truly end child marriage with a minimum marriage age of 18. Read more.
Carla Hildebrandt, “Federal Police Fear Hike in Child Forced Marriage Cases as Overseas Travel Restrictions Lift,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation (September 3, 2022). Police in Australia are on the lookout for a potential increase in forced marriage cases, as overseas travel restrictions are lifted in the country. Australian criminalized forced marriage in 2013, though there have not been any convictions since then, in part because people facing forced marriage often do not want to see their family members criminally prosecuted. Instead of prosecution, police and advocates have focused on prevention. Read more.
Yehudis Fletcher, “Forced Marriage is All Too Common in my Haredi Community,” Forward (August 29, 2022). Yehudis Fletcher, an advocate working to combat culturally-specific harms in the Jewish community, writes about the spectrum of arranged and forced marriage that takes place in her community and about the important distinction between the two. She specifies that in an arranged marriage families or community members play a role but individuals remain free to choose when and whether to marry, while in a forced marriage the individuals do not have the ability to freely make that choice. Read more.
Tamara MC, “I Was a Child Bride. It’s Time to Stop Teaching Young Girls to Stay Sweet,” Motherwell (August 10, 2022). Tamara grew up in a fundamentalist community and married at age 12. She sees many of her experiences paralleled in Netflix’s new docuseries, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey. Tamara was able to leave her marriage when she was 20, and now holds a PhD and considers herself both a survivor and an activist for girls and women. Read more.
Pilar Melendez, “Chilling 911 Call Fingers Dad in Horrific Texas ‘Honor Killing’ Trial,” The Daily Beast (August 3, 2022). A Texas man is facing trial for allegedly killing his two daughters in 2008. The prosecution in the case claims that he had become increasingly controlling of the girls and their mother, and in 2007 Amina had emailed a teacher sharing that her father planned to force her into marriage later that year. To avoid this marriage the girls and their mother left home, before eventually returning out of fear that he would find and harm them. Read more.
Zach Clark, “Child Marriage, with No Age Restriction, Is Still Legal in Michigan. Is It Time for That to Change?” WWJ News Radio 950 (August 2, 2022). A Michigan law dating back to 1897 allows children of any age to marry in the state, and to do so in private without any public record of the marriage. A bipartisan group of legislators has been pushing to change that since 2018, and have reintroduced a package of bills that would set the state’s minimum age of marriage at 18, no exceptions. They have received pushback, however, from people with concerns and a desire to make exceptions to allow children under 18 to marry in some circumstances, such as in the case of a military deployment or if they have been emancipated and granted the rights of an adult. Listen here.
Shira Schoenberg, “State Budget Is a Lot More Than Just A Spending Plan,” Common Wealth (July 18th 2022). In Massachusetts, advocacy groups and government officials are celebrating the passing of a marriage floor of eighteen years of age. But this new established child marriage ban was not created in a usual manner, House Minority Leader Brad Jones introduced the restriction as an “outside section” of a budget amendment. Although policy matters are not commonly passed in that matter, it is a method of passing standalone legislations without the frequent adversities that come with the process. The article goes on to present other monumental gains for citizens that were passed in the same “outside section” method, some examples being increased Veteran support as well as educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Read more.
Payzee Malika “It Took my Sister’s ‘Honor’ Killing for Me to Be Free From my Child Marriage,” Metro UK (July 14, 2022). Payzee recalls being informed by her parents that she would marry a 30-year-old man, even though she was just 16. “That was the day my childhood vanished right before my eyes,” she writes. She obtained a divorce nearly two years into the marriage, after learning that her sister Banaz — who had also been forced to marry underage — was murdered. Payzee was able to rebuild her life, and is now a leading advocate in the campaign that successfully ended child marriage in England and Wales this year. Read more.
Josh Bakan, “Child Marriage Legal, Same-Sex Not: Outdated Info Given to NJ Couples,” Patch (July 7, 2022). In New Jersey, multiple town websites are providing outdated information to interested individuals. Different locations in the state provide the process and paper work needed for individuals 16-17 years of age to legally get married. This information is still available 4 years after New Jersey established a marriage floor of 18 with no legal exceptions. Some websites also present outdated information on same-sex marriage claiming unions must be “of the opposite sex”. Since the article was published two towns have responded to these claims. Read more.
Grace Newton, “Yorkshire Couple Admit Breaching Forced Marriage Prevention Order by Travelling to Denmark to ‘Help’ Daughter,” The Yorkshire Post (June 17, 2022). In Yorkshire UK, two parents pleaded guilty to violating a court ordered separation between themselves and their daughter. The original 2015 separation was implemented to prevent a forced marriage organized by the victim’s parents. The parents breached the order by traveling to Denmark to find their daughter-claiming they heard stories and saw photos of her doing reckless activities. The couple is unlikely to face jail time for the breach and will be sentenced in early August. Read more.
“Spain Passes ‘Only Yes Mans Yes’ Law: What it Says and How the Country is Making Things Better for Women,” Firstpost (May 27, 2022). Spain’s parliament has approved a bill that focuses on the importance of consent and the characteristics associated with an individual’s approval of a sexual situation. The bill qualifies forced marriage and genital mutilation as a criminal offence stiffing the laws already in place within the country. It will define rape as “sex without clear consent” and propose jail sentences for abusers and other sex related criminal offences. This new bill is considered a massive gain for survivors of sexual assault as the laws once relied on evidence of violence and resistance within cases. Read more.
Tess Lowery “Meet Payzee Mahmod, the Global Citizen Price Winner Who Made Child Marriage Illegal in England and Wales,” Global Citizen (May 20, 20220). Payzee Mahmod spent a decade campaigning to end child marriage in England and Wales. That finally happened this April, as Parliament set a minimum marriage age of 18, no exceptions. Payzee narrowly avoided an unwanted child marriage herself while she was growing up, and now campaigns to ensure that other girls will never have to face the same. Read more.
“Child Marriage Bill Passes the Massachusetts House of Representatives,” East Boston Times-Free Press (May 18, 2022). The Massachusetts House of Representatives included a measure to end child marriage as part of the chamber’s 2023 budget, setting a minimum marriage age of 18 without exceptions. The measure must now be considered by the Senate, which itself passed a similar measure three years ago in 2019. If it becomes law, Massachusetts would be just the seventh state to completely end marriage under age 18. Read more.
Mike Stunson, “Mom Let 47-Year-Old ‘Marry’ Her 13-Year-Old, TX Officials Say. She’s Going to Prison,” Charlotte Observer (May 10, 2022). A mother in Texas has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after forcing her 13 year old daughter to marry a 47-year-old man. The mother claimed the marriage was a normal part of the family’s religious beliefs, and approved of the marriage in 2016. Caseworkers from Child Protective Services were informed of the marriage by a medical provider and were able to support the child through the trial; she has now been adopted by a new family. Read more.
Maria Malik, “My Forced Marriage,” Toronto Life (May 3, 2022). Maria grew up in Toronto, but as she got older her parents grew concerned that she was losing touch with the culture of their home country, Pakistan. When she was a teenager, they moved the family back and at age 17 pressured her into a marriage that eventually turned violent. Maria fought for her future, moving back to Canada and pursuing her education. She divorced her husband, and is now happily remarried with a fulfilling career in California. Read more.
Stanley Widianto, “Indonesia’s Parliament Passes Landmark Bill on Sexual Violence,” Reuters, (April 12, 2022). After six years of deliberation, Indonesian Parliament passed a bill intended to help victims of sexual violence more easily and fairly secure justice, though advocates have criticized the bill for its limited scope. The final bill also enacted a 9-year sentence for those convicted of forced marriage, including child marriages, compels perpetrators to pay restitution to survivors, and requires authorities to find counseling for victims. Read more.
Steve Lash, “General Assembly Passes Bill to Raise Minimum Marriage Age to 17,” Maryland Daily Record, (April 11, 2022). On Monday April 11, 2022, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation to raise the minimum marriage age in Maryland from 15 to 17 years old. In the case of a 17 year old getting married, they must first go before a judge and assure that they are not being forced or coerced to marry in any way. It has been a long battle to raise the minimum marriage age in Maryland, but many legislators agreed 17 was a good compromise. Read more.
Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, “Towards Outlawing Child Marriage in Zim: The Marriage Bill Passes Both Houses of Parliament,” The Chronicle (March 15, 2022). Zimbabwe has taken the final steps to outlawing child marriage, passing the Marriage Bill which affirms a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling that had recognized marriage under age 18 as unconstitutional. The bill was signed into law on March 8, International Women’s Day. With the law firmly in place, it will now fall on the government to ensure its enforcement. Read more.
Janet Holbrook, “Maryland Needs Strongest Possible Protections Against Child Marriage (Commentary),” The Capital Gazette (March 14, 2022). Opinion columnist Janet Holbrook criticizes the Senate approved version of the Maryland child marriage bill which would raise the minimum age of marriage to 17 but would not guarantee judicial review or emancipation upon marriage. She notes that the House is considering the unamended bill that does contain protections relating to judicial review and emancipation and she calls for members of the House to maintain these provisions in the bill’s final form. Read more.
James Brooks, “Alaska House Votes to Prohibit Marriage for Children 15 and Younger,” Anchorage Daily News (March 11, 2022). Representative Sarah Rasmussen (R-Anchorage) unexpectedly proposed an amendment to a bill being considered by the Alaska State House that would raise the minimum age of marriage in the state to 16. At this time, children as young as 14 can be married in Alaska with a judge’s approval. The amendment was approved 33-3 in the House and was added to a bill regarding the number of witnesses required for a marriage. Read more.
Aliya Abbas, “Guest Commentary: Maryland Must Not Fail to Outlaw Child Marriage a Seventh Time,” The Baltimore Sun (March 9, 2022). Survivor-advocate Aliya Abbas calls on Maryland legislators to end child marriage completely by setting the state’s minimum marriage age at 18, no exceptions. Legislation to limit or end child marriage has been introduced in Maryland for seven years in a row, but the state has yet to pass any reforms. Read more.
“The Age of Marriage is Being Raised in England and Wales,” The Economist (March 5, 2022). Parliament has passed legislation to end child marriage in England and Wales, setting the countries’ minimum marriage age at 18 without exceptions. Previous law had allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with parental permission. Scotland allows children the same ages to marry without a parental permission, a law which would be unaffected by this change. Read more.
Johnathan Hogan, “Idaho Supreme Court Hears Arguments in ‘Sham’ Child Marriage Case,” Idaho Post Register (February 26, 2022). The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a child marriage that was reportedly used to circumvent a custody arrangement. Boise resident Erin Carver’s and her ex-husband, William Hornish, divorced in 2012. Hornish later moved to Florida and attempted to gain full custody of their 16-year-old daughter so that she could move to Florida as well. While the case was proceeding, Carver learned that Hornish had arranged and consented to their daughter’s marriage – emancipating her so that parental custody became irrelevant. Idaho has the highest rates of child marriage in the United States, and in 2019 the Idaho House of Representatives voted down legislation that would have ended child marriage in the state. Read more.
“UK MPs Vote to Raise Minimum Age for Marriage,” Rthk.hk (February 26, 2022). On February 25, 2022, UK lawmakers voted to raise England and Wales’s minimum age for marriage from 16 to 18 years old. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill was passed unopposed in the House of Commons and is expected to be easily passed in the House of Lords, after which it can become law. Under current law, individuals aged 16 or 17 can get married with parental consent in England and Wales. Read more.
Luke Burbank, “How to Get Married in Montana Without Even Being There,” CBS Sunday Morning (February 13, 2022). A longstanding Montana law is receiving new attention as so-called “double-proxy” weddings have recently increased. This law allows for people who are a Montana resident, or an active member of the military, to get married in the state without they themselves being physically present. Watch the video.
Dan D’Ambrosio, “Vermont Legislators Consider a Bill that Would Ban Child Marriages,” Burlington Free Press (February 10, 2022). Rep. Carol Ode introduced a bill to raise the minimum legal age of marriage from 16 to 18. Currently, Vermont state law allows 16 and 17-year-olds to get married if they have permission from one parent in the form of a signature. Representative Ode expressed optimism that the bill would pass into law this year. Read more.
Amanda Engel, “Reducing Instances of Child Marriage in Maryland,” ABC 2 Baltimore (January 24, 2022). For the seventh year in a row, Maryland’s legislature will consider a bill to curtail child marriage in the state. Senate Bill 29 and House Bill 83 would set a minimum marriage age of 17, and only allow 17-year-olds to marry if they have first been granted legal adulthood by a judge in a new emancipation process. Both bills will have committee hearings in late January. Read more.
Jordan Elder, “Illinois Lawmakers Look to Increase the Legal Age of Marriage,” ABC 20 News (January 21, 2022). Illinois lawmakers have introduced legislation to end child marriage in the state, by setting the minimum marriage age at 18 without exceptions. Under current law children as young as 16 can marry with parental consent, though lawmakers note that this may be dangerous because as long as the parent approves, the child themselves does not actually have the power to refuse the marriage. Read more.
Sasha K. Taylor, “Opinion: For the Sake of a Visa, I Was Forced into Marriage in Arizona – at Age 15,” The Washington Post (January 19, 2022). Sasha’s family forced her into marriage when she was just 15, as part of a plan to secure a visa for the adult husband she’d never met. Sasha was able to escape the marriage years later, and now advocates for policy changes in both state and federal law to ensure no more girls can be forced into marriage. Read more.
Michael Kaplan, “’I Escaped a Jewish Cult That Wanted Me to Marry My 12-year-old Cousin,” Newsweek (January 18, 2022). When Mendy Levy was 15, the leaders of a fundamentalist Jewish sect he’d been born into tried to force him to marry his 12-year-old cousin. Levy escaped with the help of the Orthodox Jewish community, and is now 18 and planning to study psychology in college. A federal jury in New York convicted two of the sect’s leaders last November, but Levy still doesn’t know what became of his cousin or the other family members he left behind. Read more.
Leah Rodriguez, “Five Steps We Can Take Right Now to Protect Girls from Child Marriage,” Global Citizen (January 13, 2022). Global Citizen lists five steps people can take to help end child marriage around the world: challenge gender norms that perpetuate the idea that girls are inferior to boys; ensure all girls have access to quality education; improve access to sexual and reproductive health; provide support for the development of adolescent girls; and support legal systems that protect girls’ rights. Read more.
Erick Trickey, “’Why is Child Marriage Still Legal?’: A Young Lawmaker Tackles a Hidden Problem,” Politico (January 9, 2022). New Hampshire State Representative Cassie Levesque first learned that child marriage was still legal in her home state as part of a Girl Scout project. When her efforts to convince lawmakers succeeded in a compromise measure that marked progress but fell short of a complete ban, she ran for office herself. Every year since her election Rep. Levesque has continued her campaign to end child marriage in New Hampshire. Read more.
Aila Slisco, “Philippines Bans Child Marriage While 44 U.S. States Allow It,” Newsweek (January 7, 2022). The Philippines have become the latest country to outlaw child marriage, with the signature of a bill banning not only legal marriages involving children under age 18 but also prohibiting similar informal unions. A nationwide campaign to end child marriage in the united states, meanwhile, has thus far only succeeded in prohibiting all marriage under 18 in six states since 2016. Read more.
Stephanie Sinclair, “Child Grooms Are Often Overlooked in the Fight to Stop Child Marriage,” NPR (January 2, 2022). In the global campaign to end child marriage, focus has justifiably been on the underage girls who make up the vast majority of children married under age 18. Often overlooked are the estimated 115 million boys and men around the world who were married as children. UNICEF published the first ever in-depth analysis of these child grooms in 2019, detailing how what is sometimes considered a “women’s or girls’ issue” also harms men and boys. Read more.