If you’re thinking that child marriages are only prevalent in developing countries like India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, this report will burst your bubble. Over 167,000 people aged 17 or under, married in 38 states between 2000 and 2010 in America. The statistics is based on a search of existing marriage license data by a group called, Unchained at Last, an organization that aims to outlaw child marriage.
The organization looked into the cases of 12-year-old girls wedded in Alaska, Louisiana and South Carolina. Notably, other states had categories of ‘14 and younger.’
Unchained at Last couldn’t obtained figures for the other states, but assumed that in the entire nation, there were nearly 250,000 child marriages between 2000 and 2010. Besides, the US Census Bureau presented that at least 57,800 Americans age 15 to 17 reported being in marriages in 2014. The states where child marriages are extensively prevalent in US include Arkansas, Idaho, and Kentucky.
Although the numbers of child marriages are declining in the country, America still allows minors to get hitched with the permission of their parents or even a judge.
What is making the situation even worse is- 27 states do not have a fixed minimum age of marriage by law. Large numbers of child marriages involve girls and older men. Though such sexual relationships would defy constitutional rape laws, marriage makes it lawful.
However, change is happening!
While a legislator sponsored Cassandra’s Bill to increase the age to 18 for marriage, New Jersey lawmakers cleared a Bill that would make their state the first to ban marriages of people under 18 in US.
What fuels such unkind practice even in a developed country like America?
As per estimates by the Save the Children, a girl marries before the age of 15 every seven seconds globally. Likewise in Africa and Asia, the reasons for such marriages in the US are cultural or religious. As the American families follow conservative Christian, Muslim or Jewish customs, the judges feel that they shouldn’t encroach on other cultures.
It’s high time:
While US had denounced child marriage as a ‘human rights abuse that contributes to economic hardship’ in other nations, it’s high time that the country end the practice right at home and set precedents for others. Be it Nigeria, Afghanistan or New York, the inhumane practice must end from every corner of the world.