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