- Bipartisan lawmakers who ended child marriages in five states called on colleagues in other states to follow their example.
- Child marriage creates a legal trap for minors, who often cannot apply for divorce.
- Don’t succumb to loopholes or compromises; there is no reason to marry before the age of 18.
- State Representative Kim Williams has served on the Delaware State Legislature since 2012.
- Senator Sandy Pappas has served in the Minnesota Senate since 1990.
- This is an opinion column. The ideas expressed are those of the author.
- View more stories on Insider’s business page.
We ended human rights violations in our five states. Now, we, a bipartisan group of state legislators, call on the legislators in the remaining 45 states to do the same. Ending child marriage-an ancient, sexist practice that destroys girls’ lives-even if you get our initial objections.
Unless you live in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Rhode Island, child marriage is legal in your state.In our state, we closed in partnership with the non-profit organization Unchained At Last Dangerous legal loopholes that allow it.
Child marriage is a nightmare of legal traps
almost 300,000 Unchained found that between 2000 and 2018, children in the United States were legally married. Most of them are girls married to adult men, with an average age difference of four years. Almost everyone is 16 or 17 years old, but there are a few as young as 10 years old.
Even for the most mature 17-year-olds, marriage can create a nightmare legal trap. They can be married by their parents and/or judges with little or no input from them, even before they have the basic legal rights to deal with serious contracts like marriage.
Minors usually cannot leave the home before the age of 18 to escape the parents planning an unwanted wedding or leave an abusive spouse. They also usually cannot enter domestic violence shelters, because these shelters usually reject unaccompanied minors.
Children cannot easily hire a lawyer because contracts with children, including employment agreements, are usually revocable. They usually cannot even file for divorce independently. Minors are generally not allowed to initiate legal proceedings in their own name.
Even if it is not forced, getting married before the age of 18 is Human rights violation, According to the U.S. State Department.It destroyed almost every aspect of American girls’ lives, from their education with Economic opportunity give them health. It also triples the risk experienced by girls domestic violence.
Child marriage also undermines the statutory rape laws.some 60,000 According to Unchained, marriages since 2000 have occurred at an age or spouse age difference that should be considered a sexual offense.
Don’t succumb to compromise. End child marriage.
Don’t compromise. Don’t replace one loophole with another loophole; insist on a marriage age of 18 without exception-if the age of majority in your state is higher, it can be higher. There is no room for negotiation when ending human rights violations.
You will hear the voice of lawmakers and other grandmothers getting married at the age of 14. Remind them that the world has changed since the grandmother was a child.
You will hear arguments about young love. The answer to the question is to ask what harm a young couple would do to them if they waited a few months to get married. Minors must wait until they are 18 years old to sign almost any other contract, no matter how enthusiastic they are.
But if a girl is pregnant, some people will ask you. If the girl is too young to agree to have sex, we should investigate the rape case instead of planning the wedding. Either way, if we marry a pregnant girl, we will hurt, not help.Research shows that teenage mothers who are married in the United States are more likely to suffer Economic deprivation It is unstable compared to teenage mothers who remain single.
Teenage mothers who want to be co-parents with their child’s father can easily do so outside of marriage. He can simply establish a parent-child relationship, and his insurance and other benefits will cover the baby. We no longer have an illegitimate law that punishes babies born out of wedlock.
Don’t be swayed by religious controversy. We are not aware of any religion that requires child marriage; in fact, several major religions support legislation to end child marriage.In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court If the law does not target religious practice, support the law with the prohibition of religious requirements.
Ending child marriage will not affect reproductive rights.This U.S. Supreme Court It has been determined that the state should distinguish between abortion of minors and marriage of minors, because the former is time-sensitive, while the latter is not.
Minors who do not agree to allow liberation are subject to loopholes that violate human rights. Emancipation is for teenagers who cannot be reunited with their parents; it gives them some adulthood rights so that they can fend for themselves. Teenagers do not need marriage to take care of themselves.
Teenagers do not need marriage, period. If they are in an abusive family or cannot obtain health insurance from their parents, they should receive resources that do not require them to establish a contractual sexual relationship.
According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Objective 5.3, The United States has joined the ranks of 192 other countries and pledged to end child marriage by 2030. Despite initial resistance from our colleagues, we have achieved this goal in five states so far.
Now, we urge legislators in 45 other states to join us: please join us. Every child in the United States depends on us to keep our promise to the world and end all marriages before the age of 18. Without exception. There is no compromise.
Delaware Rep. Kim Williams
Former Senator Anthony Delcolo of Delaware
Senator Nellie Pou of New Jersey
Representative Perry Warren of Pennsylvania
Representative Jesse Topper of Pennsylvania
Senator John Sabbatina of Pennsylvania
Senator Sandra Pappas of Minnesota
Representative Kaohly Her of Minnesota
Rhode Island Representative Julie Casimiro
Senator John Burke of Rhode Island