Rep. Kristian Grant speaks in support of ending child marriage

“Michigan House OKs Ban on Child Marriage,” Michigan Advance (June 21, 2023). The Michigan House has passed a suite of legislation that could end child marriage in the state. Michigan currently has no legal minimum age for marriage, and over 5,400 child marriages occurred in the state between 2000 and 2021. The bill package received bipartisan support but was not unanimous, with five Republican representatives voting against it. The bills will now move to the state Senate for consideration. Read more

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“FMPOS Stop Forced Marriage But…” The Conversation (June 9, 2023). In England and Wales, forced marriage is recognized as a form of domestic violence and a crime. The most common age range for victims is 16-21, but even children as young as 11 have been forced into marriage. While forced marriage protection orders (FMPOs) have been helpful in preventing forced marriages, they fall short in addressing other forms of abuse and violence faced by victims. Victims often remain in the family home, and seeking an FMPO can increase the risk of further abuse. Long-term support and a deeper understanding of coercion and emotional pressure are necessary to ensure the safety of victims. Read more.

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“I Barely Escaped My Hasidic Community. To Do So, I Had To Leave 6 Of My Kids Behind,” HuffPost (June 9, 2023). Beatrice Weber shares her experience of leaving her Hasidic community and a toxic marriage in order to protect herself and her children. She reflects on the oppressive nature of her upbringing, where women were expected to be submissive and obedient. Despite facing backlash and rejection from her older children, she finds solace in being a responsible mother to her younger children and helping them explore new opportunities. She is now an advocate for change and empowers her children to make their own choices and lead fulfilling lives. Read more.

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“Hundreds of Young Dutch People at Risk of Forced Marriage during Summer Holiday,” NL Times (June 7, 2023). The LKHA, a Dutch information center focused on forced marriage and abandonment, warns that many young Dutch people are at risk during the summer period as they often miss signs of danger due to loyalty to their families. Seemingly innocent family visits abroad can result in forced marriage or abandonment. Victims often realize the signs only after the fact, such as sudden departures or lack of control over their travel documents. A campaign has been launched to raise awareness among potential victims, including an animated video and posters in schools and general physician offices. Forced marriage is a criminal offense in the Netherlands, and perpetrators can be prosecuted even if the offense occurs abroad. Read more.

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“CT Legislature Votes to Ban Child Marriages,” CT Mirror (June 2, 2023). Advocates protested outside the Connecticut Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass a bill banning child marriages. Shortly after, the Senate unanimously approved the measure. The bill would raise the legal age to marry to 18 without exceptions, aiming to prevent teenagers from being trapped in abusive situations. Connecticut has seen over 1,200 child marriages from 2000 to 2021, and advocates argue that such marriages have severe negative impacts on children’s lives. If signed into law, Connecticut will become the ninth state to ban marriages under the age of 18. Read more

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“‘My Father Performed Exorcisms and Tried to Push Me into Forced Marriage After Discovering I Was Gay,’” The Independent (May 25, 2023). Forced marriage remains prevalent in England and Wales, as revealed by a new study conducted by the University of Lincoln and the University of Bristol. The research highlights a significant decline in the number of reported cases to the government’s forced marriage unit, attributing it to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and reduced reporting during the pandemic. The authors of the study stress that forced marriage cannot be eradicated overnight, emphasizing the continued need for interventions. Disturbing cases of forced marriages were documented, including a young woman who was subjected to exorcisms and choked unconscious by her father after her family discovered she was gay, and a man who was lured to Somalia and detained in a cultural rehabilitation center to coerce him into divorcing his wife and marrying someone of his parents’ choice. Read more.

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“LGBTQ+ People ‘Especially Vulnerable’ to Forced Marriage, Study Finds,” Pink News (May 18, 2023). A study conducted by the University of Bristol and the University of Lincoln reveals that LGBTQ+ individuals and other minority groups are particularly vulnerable to forced marriages. The research, based on data from nearly 600 police case files in England and Wales, highlights the scale of the problem and offers urgent recommendations for supporting victims. Forced marriage is classified as a form of domestic violence and can lead to other criminal offenses such as assault, kidnapping, and rape. The study found that people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to be forced into marriage without their consent. Key recommendations include better coordination among safeguarding services, understanding subtle forms of coercion, and continued support even after obtaining Forced Marriage Protection Orders. Read more.

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“Proposed Legislation Would Change Michigan Child Marriage Laws,” WLNS (May 11, 2023). Bills to end child marriage in Michigan have been proposed in each of the last three years, but have never come up for a vote. The campaign took steps in the right direction this year; the bills received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, allowing advocates and survivors to testify about the importance of ending child marriage in Michigan. Read more.

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“House Panel Weighs Bills Ending Child Marriage in Michigan,” Michigan Advance (May 10, 2023). Forty-two states currently allow child marriage, and seven states have no statutory minimum age, including Michigan. A set of bills are now being heard in the Michigan House of Representatives that would set the minimum marriage age at 18 without exceptions. Advocates, including survivors of child marriage, testified in support of the bills, highlighting the potential harms and long-term consequences associated with child marriage. Read more.

Gold domed CT capitol building

“House Votes to Raise Age of Marriage to 18,” CT News Junkie (May 5, 2023). Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed a bill to end child marriage in the state on a 98-45 vote, with support and opposition votes on both sides of the aisle. If passed by the Senate, the bill would build on a 2017 reform that limited child marriage by setting a minimum marriage age of 16. Read more.

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“UNICEF Warns of Global Slowdown Toward Ending Child Marriage,” News.Az (May 4, 2023). A recent report by UNICEF highlighted the global slowdown in efforts to end child marriage. The report emphasized that progress has been hampered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, and economic hardships, leading to a rise in child marriages. UNICEF is calling for urgent action to address the issue and protect the rights and well-being of children worldwide. Read more.

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“Child Marriage Connects California and Zimbabwe,” San Francisco Chronicle (April 27, 2023). The author, a native of Zimbabwe living in San Francisco, writes about the parallels between her home country and her adopted state. One point of contrast is that Zimbabwe has made child marriage illegal, while California still sets no minimum age for marriage. Read more.

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“Vermont Becomes Latest State to Outlaw Child Marriage, Raising Eligibility Age to 18,” The Hill (April 21, 2023). Vermont became the eighth state to end child marriage by raising the minimum marriage age to 18 without exceptions. Previously, 16- and 17-year-olds could marry with parental consent. Vermont joins Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Minnesota as the only states in the US that have fully ended child marriage. Vermont’s law goes into effect in July 2023. Read more.

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“Bill to Ban child Marriage Stalls Again in Washington Legislature,” KING 5 (April 20, 2023). Washington state failed to pass a bill to end child marriage, and survivors and advocates feel that the issue isn’t getting the priority it deserves. “I’m just one of hundreds of thousands of survivors across the United States,” testified Sara Tasneem, an advocate and child marriage survivor. “My story, unfortunately, is not unique. And sadly, we all face the same types of abuse, and it just has to change.” Washington is one of the few states without a minimum marriage age, and the bill would have raised it to 18 without exceptions. The bill was pushed to the next legislative session, but that isn’t soon enough, according to Tasneem. “It needs to change, like, yesterday.” Read more.

Washington state capitol building

“Minors can still get married in WA, though some want that to change,” The Seattle Times (April 17, 2023). A bill to end child marriage in Washington state progressed in the legislature this session but ultimately failed. Currently, Washington doesn’t have a minimum marriage age. 17-year-olds require parental consent, and those younger require judicial approval. Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, introduced the bill after school children showed her friend a map of child marriage laws. “Any time we have young people engaged in the civic process, of course it captures my attention,” she said. “So it’s both a good policy to introduce and then also had that added benefit of being something I knew students in my community were watching.” The bill stalled after Law and Justice Committee Chair Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, prioritized passing other bills this season but, “[looks] forward to giving it a hearing next session.” Read more.

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“America Still Has a Child Marriage Problem,” International Policy Digest (April 16, 2023). Many Americans believe that child marriage is illegal in the United States; however, it is legal in 43 states. The international community, including the US, has committed to ending child marriage by 2030. There are many reasons why child marriage exists in the US, such as reproductive rights, as argued by the ACLU, and religion. Read more.

Woman taking wedding ring off

“More Than 400 Victims Forced Into Marriage in UK Over Past Year,” Sky News, (April 13, 2023). Karma Nirvana, a United Kingdom-based charity focused on ending honor-based abuse, found that of the 2,500 reported instances of honor-based abuse within the last year, 417 victims were forced into marriage, and at least 82 children in the UK were threatened with being wed. The charity is calling on the Home Office to focus on this issue and make meaningful change. Read more.

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“Buckingham Lecturer and Author ‘Delighted and Honoured’ to Win Women’s Rights Award,” The Buck’s Herald, (April 12, 2023). Dr. Jocelynne Scutt was presented with the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) True Honour Award, in recognition of her commitment to fighting abuse and promoting women’s interests. Dr. Scutt was a part of the movement to end child marriage in the United Kingdom. Read more.

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“Serbia to Label Child Marriage as Human Trafficking,” Euractiv, (April 12, 2023). Serbia is amending its Family law to recognize child marriage as human trafficking. Roma and low-income girls are the most at risk of child marriage. “It is often discussed in public to which extent the state has a right to interfere with the private sphere such as marriage or family. However, the harmful consequences of child marriages do indeed give the state to take every possible measure to stop those consequences,” Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue Minister Tomislav Žigmanov told RTS. Read more.

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“Asexual Woman Fled Home Over Forced Marriage and ‘Corrective Rape’ Threats,” The Pink News, (April 6, 2023). An asexual woman fled Senegal after her family tried to force her into marriage with the goal of “fixing” her lack of sexual desires. The woman attempted to seek asylum in the United States but was told that there was no information as to whether asexuality was grounds for asylum in the US. A number of US base nonprofits attempted to help, but ultimately the survivor found refuge in Ireland. Read more.  

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“Calls to Better Support People Forced into Marriage,” Australian Associated Press, (April 4, 2023). An Australian report from Monash University calls on the government to reconsider how it classifies abuse. Legally recognized forced marriage as a form of family violence allows for more support for the victim. Creating pathways other than through the current human trafficking framework and greater awareness will create impactful change. Read more. Read the report here.

Girl holding sign saying Child Not Bride

“Child Marriage Just Became Illegal in England but Still Happens in Canada,” CBC Kids News, (March 8, 2023). Canada supports the United Nations’ goal to end child marriage by 2030, yet the current law in Canada allows 17-year-olds to marry given parental consent. According to a report by Alissa Koski, an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, between 2000 and 2018, about 3,700 children in Canada had been legally married. In 2015, Canada set the minimum marital age to 16. In most providences and territories, the minimum age is 16 or 17 and requires parental consent. Judicial approval is required in Quebec. Read more.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz speaking at a podium.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (Opinion): “CT Must Act to End Child Marriage”, CT Post, (March 24, 2023). Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz writes in favor of a bill that would end child marriage in the state, eliminating exceptions that currently allow children aged 16 and 17 to marry. She says that a 2017 reform setting a minimum marriage age of 16 did not go far enough, and since that law’s passage other states in the region have leapt ahead of Connecticut by ending child marriage entirely. “Today, we stand alone as the only state in the tri-state area that allows someone under 18 years of age to marry,” she writes. “It is time to finish what we started and join our neighboring states.” Read more.

Map of child marriage in the US

“As Advocates Push for Child Marriage Bans, Some States Resist,” The Washington Post, (March 17, 2023). As recently as 2015, every state in the U.S. allowed child marriage and 28 set no firm minimum marriage age. Over the last several years, however, American survivors of child marriage have traveled across the country asking lawmakers to end child marriage. In response a wave of reforms has ended child marriage in 7 states and increased safeguards in two dozen more, but many states still resist ending child marriage entirely. Read more.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and advocates

John Moritz, “Advocates Warn Connecticut Could Become a Haven for Child Marriage as Other States Raise Legal Age to 18,” CT Insider (March 14, 2023). Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz supports proposed legislation that would set the minimum marital age to 18 without exceptions. The state currently allows minors as young as 16 to marry, while neighboring states like New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have all passed legislation ending child marriage. Read more.

Bride holding bouquet

“Welsh People Who Married Young Share Their Stories as Minimum Age is Raised From 16,” Wales Online, (February 28, 2023). Welsh people reflected on their own marriages at 16 or 17. The majority said it worked out for them, but they support England and Wales’s new law raising the minimum marriage age to 18. Most of the people that wrote in agreed that the law reflected the changing times and were hopeful that it would protect young girls. Read more.

Bride and groom holding hands

“The Age You Can Get Married in England and Wales Has Just Changed,” Cosmopolitan, (February 28, 2023). A new law has ended child marriage in England and Wales, setting the minimum marriage age at 18 in both countries after years of campaigning by survivors and advocates. The new law also makes it a crime to cause a child to marry, regardless of whether the marriage is forced; forced marriage is already a crime in the United Kingdom. The new law does not change the legal marriage age in Scotland or Northern Ireland, as the matter would have to be taken up by each of those countries’ respective governments. Read more.

Members of the Judiciary Committee during a meeting

“Prohibition on Underage Marriage Advances out of Judiciary Committee,” CT News Junkie, (March 27, 2023). A bill to end child marriage in Connecticut advanced from the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, with support from lawmakers of both parties. Despite this support, several legislators voiced concerns that the bill should make exceptions to allow children to marry in some cases and claiming that child marriage was not a large issue in the state. Read more.

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“The Bill to End Child Marriage in Texas,” Axios Dallas, (March 1, 2023). Texas House Bill 924 would end child marriage in the state, removing an exception from a 2017 law that currently allows emancipated 16- and 17-year-olds to marry in the state. Prior to the 2017 reform Texas saw more children marry than any other state, the majority of whom were girls marrying adult men. Read more.

“England and Wales Raise Minimum Age for Marriage: What’s The Age in Other European Countries?” Euronews, (February 27, 2023). As England and Wales have raised the minimum age for marriage, where do the rest of the European countries stand? The website offers an interactive map of minimum marital ages in Europe. Read more.

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“‘Love doesn’t exist’: Immigrants Defy Forced Marriage Abroad,” Associated Press, (February 27, 2023). Many Pakistanis living in Europe fear forced marriages. Italy, among other European countries, has made it a crime to coerce Italian citizens or residents into marriage, even if done so abroad. Read more.

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“Brewer Lawmaker Revives Effort to Ban Child Marriages in Maine,” Portland Press Herald, Maine, (February 17, 2023). Currently, Maine allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry given their parents’ consent. The new bill would set the minimum marital age to 18 and eliminate any exceptions. State Representative Kevin O’Connell is introducing this bill after his similar bill failed last year. Opponents in 2022 favored setting the minimum age to 17, an age consistent with enlisting in the military. Advocate and child marriage survivor Dawn Tyree testified last year saying “”My husband had reported me as a runaway and law enforcement threatened to return me to my rapist.” A public hearing on the bill has not yet been scheduled. Read more.

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“Father, Son Arrested in Alleged Kidnapping Conspiracy to Force an Arranged Marriage,” WIBV 4, (February 16, 2023). A woman was taken from her family’s home in Buffalo, New York by her father and brother after they discovered her engagement to a man they did not approve of. The took her to Yemen for an arranged marriage for which her father would be paid $500,000. The woman refused and was physically assaulted. The woman is still in Yemen. Her father and brother retuned to the United States and are facing pending kidnapping charges. Read more.

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“Written in Granite: NH and Child Marriage” The Sun (January 16, 2023).
New Hampshire State Rep. Cassandra Levesque will be leading HB 34 in the 2023 session setting the minimum marital age to 18. This push follows a bill signed into law in 2018 that set the minimum marital age to 16. Opponents argue that New Hampshire doesn’t have a child marriage problem as there were five child marriages each in 2019 and 2021 and none in 2020. Opponents also expressed concern that the higher marital age would result in more abortions. Read more.