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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 14, 2017

The Tahirih Justice Center – national experts on forced and child marriage in the United States – notes that Texas’s current laws fail to prioritize child protection in several ways.

Based on data that the Tahirih Justice Center obtained and analyzed from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Center for Health Statistics, nearly 40,000 children under age 18 were married in the state of Texas between 2000-2014. Those are some of the highest child marriage numbers in the nation. A 2016 investigative report by The Houston Chronicle appears to have relied on different data that undercounted the problem, but compellingly tells the story of A Child Bride in Texas – the reporter’s own mother’s forced marriage at age 14.

For more information about Texas’s child marriage statistics and the laws that need to change to protect children, please see Tahirih’s two page backgrounder.

Tahirih is proud to be a driving force behind the movement to end child marriage in Texas and to be leading or closely advising efforts to introduce and pass bills to address child marriage in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York, and to be working with key stakeholders and policymakers in several other states (Florida, Kentucky, Utah and others) that are beginning to consider legislation.

Tahirih has long been a major partner in the U.S. Campaign to End Child Marriage and we believe that common-sense changes to minimum marriage age laws are long overdue. In fact, last year Tahirih drafted and spearheaded the bipartisan passage of a new law that made Virginia the first state in the country to limit marriage to legal adults.

Tahirih’s expert legal analysis has been the backbone of this movement, including our recently released compilation of all 50 states’ laws on minimum marriage age and exceptions. More information on child marriage in the U.S. and its harms is available in our child marriage backgrounder and further analyses of the shortcomings of state marriage laws are forthcoming.

To learn about the national campaign to end forced and child marriage in the U.S. that Tahirih launched and has led since 2011, please read our 5-year retrospective reflection on the accomplishments of Tahirih and dozens of our coalition colleagues around the country.

Tahirih’s Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy, Jeanne Smoot, is available for comment on this topic. Please contact rebekahs@tahirih.org to arrange an interview.

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