With Governor Mill’s signature of LD 443, Maine has taken further steps to limit child marriage in the state. The new law does not ban child marriage in the state of Maine altogether but builds on previous reforms by raising the state’s minimum marriage age from 16 to 17. But even with this new legislation 17-year-olds can still get married with parental consent, leaving them at significant risk of forced marriage.
“This is an encouraging step, but there remains work to be done,” said Alex Goyette, Public Policy Manager at the Tahirih Justice Center. “Raising the minimum marriage age to 17 is a step in the right direction, but older minors still lack the legal rights of an adult and remain vulnerable to forced marriage. 17-year-olds deserve protection, too.”
Based on our analysis of other compromise bills, raising the age floor from 16 to 17 without any additional safeguards is unlikely to prevent many child marriages. Children who would have been married at 16 will have to wait until 17, but they are still likely to marry underage and face the known harms associated with child marriage.
Tahirih applauds the Maine legislators who have shown their commitment to addressing child marriage in the state for multiple years, and we look forward to supporting continued efforts to ultimately end child marriage in Maine.
For further comments on this topic, please email [email protected].
The Tahirih Justice Center is a national, nonprofit organization that serves women, girls, and all immigrant survivors of gender-based violence. By amplifying the experiences of survivors, our mission is to create a world in which all people share equal rights and live in safety and with dignity.