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.