Child marriage in the United States — the issue of state law

Child marriage in the United States — the issue of state law

Child marriage is a big problem not only for poor countries, where the situation of children and women in society remains very poor. Statistics and studies showthat this problem is widespread and in the United States. According to the state marriage license, research groups and experts, between 2000 and 2015, the marriage took more than 200,000 children, almost all of them girls. And in almost all cases the husband was a grown man.

How state laws contribute to the problem, sheds light report, published in Tahirih Justice Center.

Child marriage in the United States — the issue of state law

Tahirih Justice Center — a nonprofit advocacy group created to put an end to violence against women and girls undertook a comprehensive analysis of numerous legislative acts governing marriage in all 50 States and the district of Columbia. The findings were as follows:

Twenty-five States set the minimum age at which a person can marry, and another eight States set the age of marriage below the age of 16. For example, in Alaska and in North Carolina you can marry from the age of 14. In new Hampshire it’s 13 years for girls and 14 for boys. In all of these States, minors must still get the judge’s permission to marry.

But the Center report notes that this is unlikely to provide a reliable protection against the exploitation of children. For example, in the legislation of most States does not indicate that the judge is obliged to work in the judiciary, which gives him the experience exactly in this area — that is, in the court-family, juvenile or domestic court cases.

Also, very few States require that the child was assigned his or her own lawyer. Only two States, the law stipulates that a judge may not approve the marriage merely because the child’s parents gave their consent. And nine States directly indicate pregnancy as the reason for lowering the minimum age of marriage.

All these loopholes in the law hamper the security of minors. Thus, girls are forced into marriage by their own parents or adult partner are practically not protected by law. Moreover, even in States that have officially set the age of marriage not less than 16 years, judges are usually allowed to cancel the limit and allow child marriage.

At Tahirih Justice Center hope that this report will encourage lawmakers to find and fix the loopholes that were found in the statutes of each state.

Still progress was slower than I would like defenders of the rights of children and women. But the interest is growing and over the past two years Virginia, Texas and new York have enacted laws that guarantee the protection of children against forced marriage and regulate child marriage in General. Earlier in new York, the marriage was officially permitted for children under the age of 14 with the permission of the judge. Now the minimum age raised to 17 years. And even in the case of 17-year-old girls, a judge must determine that the child is not forced to marriage. Also a minor bride and groom are assigned a lawyer who informs them about the problems of domestic violence and forced marriage.