We as Americans, look down our noses at “other countries” who still practiced the barbaric tradition of child marriage, but few realize that it is happening in our own backyard. If you are visiting my site through my TeenVogue article on this topic, then here is a list of the 25 offending states that allow child marriage under the age of 15. Check here to see if your state is listed:
Please click here for a list of states that still allow child marriage.
If you are as shocked and outraged by this injustice as I am, here’s how you can help; Please take a stand with me to protect these vulnerable children using this easy copy & paste letter to send to your state legislator. It only takes a couple of minutes.
Dear ______, (Legislator)
I was shocked and horrified to learn that my home state has no age floor or minimum marriage age laws in place to protect a minor/child from being married to an adult. This needs to change!
Fact: Statistics show that 31% of girls are more likely to end up in poverty, are 3x more likely to be beaten by their spouses, have a higher risk of psychiatric disorders due to trauma, and have an almost 80% divorce rate. Theres almost no way to escape these “bonds” of marriage. In these marriages the child is powerless to make choices and decisions that would affect her future and protect herself. Even at 16 or 17, it would be very hard for her to hire a divorce attorney by herself, rent an apartment, or enter a shelter for abused women because minors aren’t allowed into an adult shelter without contacting the parents and sending them back.
I strongly urge you to protect the children of our State by supporting legislation to raise the minimum marriage age to 18- No exceptions!
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this matter.
This is similar to the letter I sent Chris Christie when I learned he recently vetoed a bill in NJ that would raise the minimum marriage age from 12 to 18. Urge your state lawmakers to support new legislation that would make 18 years old the minimum marriage age.
Another way you can help is to repost, tweet, share and spread the word about child marriage in the U.S and #StillAGirlCampaign.
Shout out to Virginia and New York for being the only two states in the US to have a minimum marriage age of 18, thanks in part to the Tahirih Justice Center’s “Forced Child Marriage Initiative” . Their pro bono lawyers and tireless efforts helped draft new legislation that passed n those 2 states in the last 18 months (and they’re currently working on 11 more states). See ….. there’s Hope! But they need our help to raise awareness and put pressure on our lawmakers- Please join me in using our voices and social media skills for positive impact- We can do this!
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Use #StillAGirlCampaign and tag Kaya on Twitter @kaya_Callahan or IG @topteentraveler.
Louis E. says
I have to vehemently oppose this fanatical attitude.There MUST be ways to escape a minimum marriage age of 18 where the under-18 person’s best interests require it.The difficulties regarding independent action can be addressed by treating all married persons as adults regardless of age.You are concerned about the possible predatory motives of over-18 spouses of under-18s,but what about under-18s who need to escape horrific parents?
Why do you want to FORCE all children of mothers under 18 to be born out of wedlock no matter what the circumstances of the parents?
Safeguards are a good thing…but…NO EXCUSE FOR HAVING NO EXCEPTIONS.
I see your perspective, However, Marrying to escape horrific parents is not an excuse to enter into the most complicated contract of your life as a child with an adult. They are not old enough to hire an attorney to Divorce and protect themselves, Not old enough to rent her own apartment if she needs to escape this marriage which statics prove is 3x more likely to be abusive- she can’t drive a car, have a job that works enough hours to support herself, serve her country or vote, but old enough to let a adult man Marry her????? If you have horrible parents, then leaving and finding your way on your own would be preferred to marrying a pedophile, someone who would be considered a statutory rapist and need to be a registered as a sex offender in any other situation, with whom she has a 79% chance of divorcing later and a 50% school drop out rate which leads to a life poverty and on welfare. Setting the marriage age at 18 is helping protect girls from OTHERS making misguided and horrible choices for them and stripping away their possibilities for the future. Children born to under age girls has happened since the beginning of time, with and without the help of biological fathers, there are no stats to show that teen girls stay in great, long lasting marriages when they get married only Because of pregnancy- quite the opposite.
Thanks for your comment, hope this information helps.