Today, Governor Phil Scott signed a law that ends child marriage in the state by raising the legal age for marriage to 18 without exceptions. This victory makes Vermont the 8th state to completely end child marriage and comes after years of advocacy by the sponsor, Rep. Carol Ode, and advocates in Vermont to ensure that children can no longer be coerced into marriage
A report by the Vermont Commission on Women found that 281 children had married in the state between 2000 and 2019, 84% of whom were girls and many of whom married a man much older than themselves – some with an age gap of over 10 years.
“Vermont is now the 8th state to end child marriage and joins Rhode Island and Massachusetts as the third state in New England to accomplish this feat,” said Alex Goyette, Senior Public Policy Associate at the Tahirih Justice Center. “This law not only shields Vermont’s children from harm but adds to what is becoming a strong regional block of northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that have ended or significantly curtailed child marriage.”
We are grateful to state Rep. Carol Ode for the years spent championing this legislation to end child marriage, and to the advocates who supported the campaign from the beginning.
We hope that Vermont’s success will encourage the other 42 states that currently allow child marriage to follow suit and end child marriage across the United States.
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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.