UPDATE: Unfortunately the Judiciary Committee did not favorably report this bill before the February 7 deadline, but Tahirih looks forward to working next session to end child marriage in Massachusetts!
U.S. laws that permit child marriage put girls at risk of being forced or coerced to marry against their will, and jeopardize their chance at safe and healthy futures.
Women who marry young face greater vulnerability to domestic and sexual violence, increased risk of serious illnesses and mental health disorders, increased high school drop-out rates, an increased risk of future poverty, and divorce rates of up to 80%. For teen mothers, getting married and later divorcing can more than double the likelihood of future poverty.
The Tahirih Justice Center is leading a national campaign to change these laws, and we need your help!
A joint House/Senate bill in Massachusetts (H2310/S785) would prohibit clerks from issuing marriage licenses if a party is under age 18. By contrast, current law has no age “floor” for marriage, so long as a judge verifies that the parents of the child consent.
Current Massachusetts law has failed to protect children from the harms of forced and early marriage. Nearly 1,200 children as young as age 14 were married between 2000 and 2014, and most were girls married to adult men – like a 14-year-old girl married to a 23-year-old man, or a 17-year-old girl married to a 39-year-old man. Statutory rape laws are ignored, and predators are given a free pass when “marriages” like these are state-sanctioned.
The Good News: In less than 5 minutes, you can help change the law and protect girls from devastating, lifelong harm!
The Bad News: Time is short – if the Joint Judiciary Committee does not “favorably report” this critical legislation by Wednesday, February 7, it “dies” for this session. We’d have to wait a year to start over and try again.
To take action:
1) Go to this link to find contact info for the members of the Massachusetts Joint Judiciary Committee.
2) Call all the members, or just call your representative on the Committee.
3) Use the following script:
“My name is ____ and I live in [city], Massachusetts. I’m calling to urge the [Senator/Representative] to favorably report H2310/S785, which is pending in the Joint Judiciary Committee. This critical legislation will end all marriage before age 18 in Massachusetts and protect children from the devastating harms of forced and early marriage. Thank you for sharing my strong support of H2310/S785 with the [Senator/Representative].”
Thank you! Together we can make history in Massachusetts and preserve girls’ safe and healthy futures.