Child Marriage Is Unbelievably Still Legal In 44 States?
Sophie Lewis of CBS News points out how New York became the sixth state to ban child marriage, after raising the legal age of consent to be married to 18. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation which will take effect 30 days after becoming law.
A previous law Cuomo signed in 2017 allowed 17-year-olds to be married with parental and judicial consent, but activists claimed that allowed parents to force minors to marry and claim it as consensual. This meant that while sex between an adult and a minor would be a crime, marriage made that same activity legal. This new law eliminates that exception.
Child Marriage Is Legal In 44 States
With New York being the sixth state to ban child marriage, that means 44 states still allow it. That can’t be right. Can it?
New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Rhode Island have all implemented laws completely banning minors from marrying. Every other state still allows youth under the age of 18 to marry, including youth who are legally emancipated or who have parental consent or judicial approval. Outright bans are opposed for stripping youth of their right to form their families and eliminate one of the only pathways to exit the foster care system through emancipation, or for religious arguments especially when a pregnancy is involved. Advocates argue that the only way to end the statutory rape loophole is to end child marriage in all 50 states.
The states with the highest per-capita rates of child marriage are Nevada, Idaho and Arkansas, according to Unchained at Last, a nonprofit that advocates against child marriage. Nearly 300,000 minors were legally married nationwide between 2000 and 2018, a recent study by the Unchained at Last found. The majority of those marriages involved 16- or 17-year-olds — but some involved were as young as 10. 86% of the children who married were girls — most wed to adult men an average of four years older though the numbers have decreased significantly from 2000 when at least 76,396 minors were married compared to 2018 where the number was at 2,493.