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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Jan. 31, 2018

The Tahirih Justice Center, a nationally recognized leader in the fight to end violence against women and girls, applauded the Florida Senate today on the passage of SB 140, a bill that would end child marriage in the state of Florida.

“We are thankful to the Florida Senate today, and especially to Senator Benacquisto, Senator Simpson, Senator Book, and the co-sponsors, for taking a stand against underage marriage in Florida,” said Jeanne Smoot, Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy at the Tahirih Justice Center.

Smoot said further:

“Senate Bill 140 draws a clear and critical line, making it against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to be issued a marriage license. In passing this legislation, the Florida Senate recognized that minors cannot enter binding legal contracts and have much more limited rights than adults have, and therefore should not be committed to a legally binding, adult relationship.

The passage of this legislation today is a victory for the thousands of Florida women who were forced or coerced into marriage as girls, whose ‘marriages’ were cover-ups for heinous crimes, who were trapped in abusive marriages underage without the resources or means to escape, and whose girlhood dreams for their futures were cruelly dashed and denied. Today is a victory for women who have stood strong for years in the face of unimaginable abuse because Florida failed them. While we celebrate this win in the Florida Senate today, we know the fight is not over and that this bill must still be passed by the Florida House of Representatives.

To the Florida House, we have confidence you will support and protect vulnerable young girls and give them the chance to grow into strong young women. We ask you to stand with your colleagues in the Florida Senate, and side-by-side with survivors, in sending a message to all those who seek out loopholes in current Florida law that allow children to be preyed upon. Let them know Florida will not stand by while innocence is stolen by predators. We urge you to set an example for the rest of the country, and to show how Florida’s leaders swiftly mobilize to protect children, by prohibiting the marriage of anyone under the age of 18.”

 

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

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