In The News
Hannah Summers, “Girls at Risk of Child Marriage as Half of Local Authorities Fail to Keep Records,” The Guardian (May 18, 2020). Advocates in the United Kingdom warn that many social workers are not equipped to respond to the increased risk of forced and child marriage posed by the country’s coronavirus lockdown. Read more.
Ellen Wulfhorst, “U.S. Online Marriages Feared Providing Cover for Child Brides,” Reuters (May 15, 2020). During the coronavirus pandemic, many U.S. states have shifted their policies to allow couples to apply for marriage licenses remotely. Such flexibility comes as a relief for many couples looking to tie the knot, but experts warn that the same measures could erode protections that prevent forced and child marriages. Read more.
“Gov. Wolf Officially Signs Law Banning Child Marriage in PA.” WJAC News (May 8, 2020). Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf officially signed into law a new measure ending child marriage in the state. The state – which previously had no minimum age of marriage – set a minimum age of 18, no exceptions. Pennsylvania is the third state to prohibit all marriage under age 18, after Delaware and New Jersey did so in 2018. Read more.
Torey Van Oot, “Bill to Raise Minnesota’s Legal Marriage Age to 18 Goes to Gov. Walz,” Star Tribune (May 6, 2020). Minnesota is poised to raise the legal marriage age to 18 without exceptions. A bill banning all marriage under age 18 was approved unanimously by both the House and Senate, and Governor Walz is expected to sign it into law. Read more.
Foluyinka Fakoya, “COVID-19 and Young Girls: Expect Increases in Child Marriage and Teen Pregnancy,” Ms. Magazine (April 20, 2020). Nine in 10 children are under lockdown in their homes as part of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. For too many young girls, however, home is not a safe place. Experts predict that along with the well-documented rise in domestic violence, the pandemic will also see increased rates of child sexual abuse and child marriage around the world. Read more.
Lucy Gray, “Lifting the Veil: Why Children Are Still Getting Married in America,” The Independent (April 16, 2020). Many U.S. states have child marriage laws weaker than those of countries like Afghanistan, Honduras, and Malawi. The Independent speaks with survivors of child marriage in the U.S., and their allies who are pushing for reforms to end child marriage across the country. Read more.
James Hitchings-Hales, “After Her Sister’s Murder, This UK Child Marriage Survivor is Fighting to Change the Law,” Global Citizen (March 27, 2020). Global Citizen interviews Payzee Mahmood, a survivor-advocate fighting to end child marriage in England and Wales. Shayzee was spurred to action by the murder of her sister, Banaz, in 2006. Read more.
“Idaho Governor Signs Bill Setting Minimum Marriage Age at 16,” KTVB 7 (March 25, 2020). Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed a bill designating 16 as the state’s minimum age of marriage. The bill also limits 16- and 17-year-olds to marrying a partner no more than three years their elder. A similar bill to limit child marriage in Idaho failed in the legislature because it would have required minors aged 16 and 17 to get a judge’s approval before marrying – this year’s bill requires only parental consent. Read more.
“Minimum Age to Marry Raised in Indiana,” WBIW News (March 24, 2020). Indiana’s Governor Holcomb signed into law a bill ensuring that only legal adults can marry in the state. The new law also sets an absolute minimum marriage age of 16, and establishes judicial vetting for minors aged 16 and 17 who wish to marry. Read more.
Eric Flack, “Maryland Will Become ‘Destination for the Exploitation of Girls’ if Underage Marriage Laws Aren’t Changed, Advocates Say,” WUSA9 (March 12, 2020). Girls as young as 15 can marry in the state of Maryland, a fact troubling for women like Sasha Taylor, who says her childhood was taken from her far too soon. Forced into marriage at age 15 herself, she is now advocating for Maryland lawmakers to bass a bill that would limit child marriage in the state. Read more.
Tom Davies, “Tougher Indiana Law on Under-18 Marriages Wins Approval,” Associated Press (March 12, 2020). The Indiana legislature has passed a bill to end child marriage in the state, setting a minimum marriage age of 18 with a limited exception for minors who have been emancipated – granted the legal rights of an adult – following a private interview with a judge. Current law allowed children as young as 15 to marry with a parent’s permission, leaving many vulnerable to forced marriage. Read more.
Carmen Forman, “Oklahoma House Rejects Bill to Restrict Marriage Involving Minors,” The Oklahoman (March 9, 2020). The Oklahoma House scrapped legislation to limit child marriage in the state, although the sponsor does plan to try and revive the bill before the end of session. While HB 3873 would originally have prohibited all marriage under age 18, it was amended with an exception for emancipated minors in an attempt to win support. Under current law, Oklahoma sets no absolute minimum age of marriage. Read More.
Scott Poyer, “Maryland Lawmakers Should Raise the Minimum Age of Marriage, Again,” Capital Gazette (February 17, 2020). Scott Poyer, clerk for the court in Arundel County urges Maryland lawmakers to raise state’s minimum marriage age. Current law establishes an age floor of 15, allowing minors to marry with parental consent or in cases of pregnancy. The current standard poses threat to minors, according to Poyer, placing these individuals in “an adult situation potentially with limited options for help, especially if the relationship turns abusive.” Read more.
Jessica Morgan, “I Was Forced into Child Marriage at 16, Now I’m Fighting to Stop It in the UK,” Refinery 29 (February 13, 2020). In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, teenagers can wed at 16 with parental consent, while Scotland does not even require parents’ permission. Payzee’s father forced her into marriage at age 16, after which she was subjected physical, mental, and emotional abuse. Now 32, Payzee says it has taken her a long time to accept that was a child bride, but she is now speaking out about her experiences in hopes of ending child marriage in the United Kingdom. Read more.
Nick Reynolds, “Bill to Restrict Child Marriages in Wyoming Defeated in the House,” Casper Star-Tribune (February 12, 2020). For the second year in a row, a bill to curb child marriage in Wyoming has been struck down, even after amendments to loosen the bill by allowing emancipated minors to marry while. The bill failed on a vote of 31-28, with several lawmakers opposing the bill because they believe that a parent should be able to decide whether their child can marry. Read more.
Tamsin Smith, “How Can We All End Child Marriage in England and Wales,” Brides Do Good (February 8, 2020). Over a 100 different social advocates, parliamentarians, legislators, educators, students and grassroots organizations recently gathered to promote discussion, collaboration and education on the issues surrounding child marriage in England and Wales. Current law allows English and Welsh children to marry at age 16 with parental consent, placing that population at risk of forced marriage and the numerous harms that result from marriage under age 18. Read more.
Nathan Brown, “Idaho Lawmakers Introduce Child Marriage Bill,” Idaho Press (February 7, 2020). Idaho is currently one of a dozen states that set no minimum age for marriage, but that may soon change. A new would set 16 as the minimum age to marry, and set a maximum age difference of three years for any marriage involving a minor. The bill walks back a safeguard included in a similar provision last year, dropping the requirement for a judge to approve child marriages. Read more.
Ellen J. Kennedy, “Child, Not Bride: Minnesota Should Outlaw Marriage under Age 18,” MinnPost (February 7, 2020). Current law allows children as young as 16 to get marry in Minnesota. Legislation to address the issue was introduced last year and pass unanimously through the House before stalling in the Senate. Senator Pappas, the bill’s sponsor, has renewed her efforts in 2020 and hopes to end all marriage under age 18 this session. Read more.
Tom Davies, “Scrap Over Old Indiana Gay Marriage Ban Derails Popular Bill,” Associated Press News (January 31, 2020). A widely supported bill for increasing the minimum age of marriage to 18 in Indiana was sidelined, following a proposed amendment to remove now-defunct language prohibiting same-sex marriage from Indiana law. Read more.
Niki Kelly, “Panel OKs Proposal to Increase Age to Wed,” The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (January 28, 2020). After hearing testimony from survivors of forced child marriage, Indiana’s House Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly to endorse a bill that would raising the state’s minimum marriage age. While current state law allows marriage as young as 15, the new bill would set the age at 18, with a limited exception for 17-year-olds granted the legal rights of an adult through a special court proceeding. Read more.
Linda Carroll, “In Many U.S. States, Teens Can’t File for Partner Violence Protective Order,” Reuters (January 23, 2020). Despite the prevalence of intimate partner violence in teenage dating relationships, minors’ access to protection orders varies widely by state, and many states do not allow minors to apply for protection orders on their own behalf. Reuters speaks with Avanti Adhia, a researcher who conducted a study across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to assess the degree of access minors have to protection orders when facing violence in a dating relationship. Read more.
Nick Reynolds, “Laramie Democrat Pitches Bill to End Child Marriage in Wyoming,” Casper Star Tribune (January 23, 2020). Wyoming Rep. Charles Pelkey has renewed last year’s effort to end child marriage in the state, with two key changes. This year’s bill sets an age floor of 18, but with a limited exception for emancipated minors, and carries bipartisan support from Senate Judiciary co-Chairwoman Tara Nethercott. Read more.
Dawn Tyree, “I Turned My Child Marriage Trauma into Activism,” YES! Magazine (January 14, 2020). Dawn Tyree, a survivor of child marriage in the United States, writes about her experience transforming her trauma into activism. Dawn testified in favor of a new law that ended child marriage in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has found healing and freedom in speaking out. Read more.