By: Nicole Mclaren
Childhood marriage is something that usually we do not think of happening in the U.S. but the definition of a childhood marriage is any marriage in which the parties are under 18. In almost every state this is legal but the requirements to get the marriage certificate changes between states.
The national average is about 5 out of 1000 underage people are married. The two states that have the highest average are Texas and West Virginia both averaging around 7 out of 1000 15-17 year olds being married. Still other states have outdated laws that allow 12 year old girls and 14 year old boys to marry with parental consent. in 2014 there were over 57,000 15-17 year olds married in the US, 55% of them were women.
According to Human Rights Watch, one out of four girls in the world will marry before the age of 18. There are over 7 million women and over 1 million men in the world who are in a childhood marriage. The over representation of girls in childhood marriages in the US and around the world is alarming. It is because of the rights of women and girls being an afterthought in cultures across the globe. Childhood marriage is an outdated system and we should be working to address it in the US and around the world.
Currently there is a bill being proposed in the New York state legislature that seeks to end child marriage by changing the age of marriage from 14 to 17. In the first decade of the 21st century over 3000 children were married in New York. Human Rights Watch has started an email to legislators in the state to push them to pass this bill. The organizations and politicians that support this bill are seeking to help protect the rights of these children, mostly girls married to adult men. Click the link to put your voice in!