Child marriage, which activists describe as one or both parties entering a union while under age 18, remains legal in 37 US states. There are no federal laws against it, meaning minors can marry, with parental consent, before they can vote, drink, or buy lottery tickets in the majority of the country. Some states have a minimum marriage age on the books, which ranges from 15 to 18. Four states – California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Mississippi – do not specify any minimum age at all.

Many survivors say they felt trapped in their marriages. Some, like Kosnik, must rely on their spouses for financial support. Others are up against complicit parents, who sign off on forced unions. In many states, statuatory rape is not a crime within marriage, creating a legal loophole that entices predators and increases the likelihood of sexual abuse. “Child marriage can be seen as a workaround for child rape,” said Fraidy Reiss, founder of Unchained at Last.

The US government calls child marriage a human rights abuse and has committed up to $5.3m to prevent it “in regions, countries, and communities where interventions are most needed and most likely to achieve results”. American exceptionalism would lead people to associate these regions with the global south, not the US, Gupta says. “Of course it’s prevalent here, too.”

Close to 300,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2018 in the US, according to a study conducted by Unchained at Last; a small number of them were as young as 10. Because 78% of minors who wed in that timespan were girls with adult husbands, advocates frame their cause around saving underage girls from older men.

  • @VirtualOdour
    5 days ago

    I looked it up, the ACLU said it “unnecessarily intrudes on the fundamental rights of marriage without due cause” and fought prior attempts to legislate against it. Planned Parenthood were against it because they said it was a slippery slope that might affect abortion rights (I didn’t see rational for this supplied but assume they have some)

    So it wasn’t Hollywood as the other poster glibly asserted, actually movies like ‘childbrides of the ozarks’ were important in brining it to popular attention and helping initial pushes against it. Currently there are democrats pushing for legislation to ban in, supported in many case by the ‘evil Hollywood elites’ as seen from conspiracy theory world as they’re big donors and fund raisers for democratic causes but also ACLU and PP so possibly yeah they were slightly involved in the ban being resisted but not in the way suggested.

    The ACLU have since chances their stance on child marriage, I imagine planned parenthood have too but I couldn’t find that stated. Most current resistance is coming from religious focused Republicans.

    • @[email protected]
      24 days ago

      Most current resistance is coming from religious focused Republicans.

      Yep, that’s on brand for sure.