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Contact: Phuong Nguyen
(571) 249-2114
[email protected]


Falls Church, VA —Today, HB 994 became law ending child marriage in Virginia by establishing a minimum marriage age of 18 without exceptions. The law removes an exception that previously allowed emancipated minors to marry in Virginia.

“This is a momentous day for children in the Commonwealth, who no longer have to fear the threat of a forced child marriage,” said Casey Carter Swegman, Director of Public Policy at the Tahirih Justice Center. “Virginia started the national movement to end child marriage in 2016; by completely banning child marriage today, it has reasserted itself as a leader of that movement.”

Virginia sparked the national movement to end child marriage in 2016, when the Tahirih Justice Center championed a reform that made it the first state to limit marriage to legal adults – age 18, or minors emancipated through a special court proceeding. This reform’s impact was immediate and significant – 87% fewer minors were married in Virginia in 2017 after the law passed, and the victory inspired a wave of reforms that has now seen 35 states pass laws to limit or end child marriage.

HB 994 completes the work started in 2016, marking a new milestone in Virginia’s commitment to ensuring children are free from the threat of forced marriage. Virginia is the 12th state to end child marriage, and the first southern state to do so. Virginia is also the fifth state to end child marriage in just the last two years, reflecting the movement’s growing momentum.

We are grateful to Delegate Keys-Gamarra for championing this legislation to end child marriage and the bipartisan group of legislators who ensured its passage in both chambers and to the advocates – especially the survivors of child marriage – whose years of campaigning have finally paid off. We hope their leadership will inspire the other 38 states that currently allow child marriage to follow suit so that we can see an end to child marriage across the United States in our lifetime.

For further comments on this topic, please email [email protected].

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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.