More than 200,000 children married in US over the last 15 years

Date: 
March, 2018
Country: 
United States of America

Three 10-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy were among the youngest to wed, under legal loopholes which allow minors to marry in certain circumstances.

The minimum age for marriage across most of the US is 18, but every state has exemptions – such as parental consent or pregnancy – which allow younger children to tie the knot.

In May, the high-profile Republican governor for New Jersey declined to sign into law a measure that would have made his state the first to ban child marriage without exception. Chris Christie claimed it would conflict with religious customs. 

At least 207,468 minors married in the US between 2000 and 2015, according to data compiled by Unchained At Last, a group campaigning to abolish child marriage. The true figure is likely to be much higher.

Nearly 3,500 children married in the state between 1995 and 2012. Eight-seven per cent of the minors who married across the country between 2000 and 2015 were girls, with the majority either 16 or 17. 

Children as young as 12 were granted marriage licences in Alaska, Louisiana and South Carolina, while 11 other states allowed 13-year-olds to wed.

A 14-year-old girl married a 74-year-old man in Alabama, while a 17-year-old wed a 65-year-old groom in Idaho.

Last month New York banned children aged under 17 from marrying. Previously minors as young as 14 were allowed to wed under state law providing they obtained parental and court permission.

Source: Independent