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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A new compilation of all 50 states’ laws on minimum marriage age and exceptions reveals the ways in which state statutes allow children to be married in 2016

The Tahirih Justice Center has released an eye-opening compilation of all 50 states’ laws on minimum marriage age and exceptions that serves as a critical resource for understanding the state legal regimes that permit child marriages to happen in the United States. This document reveals that over half (27) of U.S. states have no bottom line age “floor” below which a child cannot be married, so long as a judge approves, and exposes the lax statutory exceptions based on parental consent (which can hide parental coercion) or pregnancy (which can be evidence of rape) that can actually facilitate forced marriages and often leave older minors especially unprotected.

Child marriage remains a serious problem in present-day America with devastating, lifelong consequences. U.S. research shows that children who marry have more mental health issues, are much more likely to live in poverty, and that teen girls in particular are extremely vulnerable to physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. Tahirih is committed to ensuring that girls are given the opportunity to lead healthy, safe, and fulfilling lives and has been waging a bold campaign to end child marriage by raising the legal age of marriage in every state. As part of this campaign, Tahirih will release additional legal resources in the coming weeks that further demonstrate how state legal regimes make child marriage possible and can leave children with no way to prevent or escape a marriage they do not want.

To learn more about child marriage in the United States, please read Tahirih’s backgrounder on this issue.

Tahirih’s Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy, Jeanne Smoot, and Forced Marriage Initiative Project Manager, Casey Swegman, are now available for interviews on this topic. Please contact Rebekah Stewart at rebekahs@tahirih.org or 571-550-9162 to arrange an interview.