Publications ArchivePublication Tag: Child Marriage
Maryland’s Senate Bill to End Child Marriage Will Not Protect Minors
This year, yet again, Maryland senators have weakened a bill that seeks to end child marriage. Presented with a strong bill rooted in years of bi-partisan compromise, the amended version the Senate passed on Monday does almost nothing to protect children from abuse and exploitation under the guise of marriage. It maintains some of the most dangerous exceptions, including pregnancy and parental consent, and keeps Maryland in a position of being a regional destination for child marriage.
This amended bill has no resemblance to the initial bill the Tahirih Justice Center helped draft. While states like Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, and Virginia have all passed similar reforms which have been working effectively. Meanwhile, other states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, New York and Minnesota have passed bright line 18 bills. It is frustrating that the Maryland Senate can’t seem to accept that it is just good public policy to do all we can to protect children from the harms of child marriage.
Nonetheless, we are hopeful the House will pass the bill out as written, as they have every year since we began this campaign in 2016. When it crosses over, we hope the Senate takes the opportunity to finally prioritize the protection of children and bring Maryland out of the dark ages when it comes to child marriage.
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Making Progress, But Still Falling Short: A Report on the Movement to End Child Marriage in America
Making Progress, But Still Falling Short outlines what more needs to be done to end child marriage in America both at the state and federal level. It contains the latest analysis (updated August 26, 2021) on all twenty-seven states that have recently enacted laws to end or limit child marriage, calling out features that make them strong or weak.
For a high-level summary of the nature of all the marriage-age reforms enacted by states since 2016, please click here.
For a map of all the reforms made since 2016, please click here.
Child Marriage Poses Serious Risks to Children
Child marriage remains a serious problem in present-day America. Since 2000, well over 200,000 minors were married, most of them girls married to adult men. Children lack the rights and resources of adults and are more vulnerable to coercion and predation. As a result, many child marriages are forced marriages, and/or are cover-ups for other abuse and exploitation.
Marriage before age 18 has devastating, lifelong consequences, including greater vulnerability to sexual and domestic violence, increased medical and mental health problems, higher drop-out rates from high school and college, greater risk of poverty, and up to 80% divorce rates. Read this backgrounder to learn how child marriage, even if by “choice,” denies young people the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
State laws that allow child marriage to persist can ratchet up these risks. To learn more, explore our 50-state statutory compilation and legislative analyses, survivor story compilation, and other resources at tahirih.org/childmarriage.
Updated Appendices to “Falling Through the Cracks: How Laws Allow Child Marriage to Happen in Today’s America”
These appendices accompany the Tahirih Justice Center’s 2017 report, “Falling Through the Cracks: How Laws Allow Child Marriage to Happen in Today’s America”. The fundamental analysis in the report remains current, but the first two appendices to this report have been replaced by new “scorecards” on states’ minimum marriage age laws (updated as of July 1, 2019), to reflect changes that many states have made to their minimum marriage age laws through June 2019.
Tahirih Statement on Georgia Child Marriage Law
The Tahirih Justice Center celebrates the passage of a new law in Georgia limiting marriage to adults age 18 or older, with a narrow exception only for 17-year-old minors that have been emancipated after a special proceeding before a juvenile court. The legislation also contains other key measures to prevent abuse and exploitation in the guise of marriage.
Gender-Based Violence One Pager
Gender-based violence affects millions of individuals around the world. We explain this form of violence and its different forms in this one pager.
Tahirih Statement on USCIS Report on Child Marriage
The Tahirih Justice Center is deeply concerned by the data in the new report released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services titled “How the U.S. Immigration System Encourages Child Marriages”. Tahirih is particularly alarmed by the number of U.S. minors who apparently successfully petitioned for foreign spouses despite a law already in place that should prevent these marriages.