New York Ends Child Marriage, Raises Consent Age from 14 to 18
New York has finally decided it is time to take child marriage issues seriously. The State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill this week raising the state’s age for consent to marry from 14 to 18.
The new law also amends the parental and judicial consent requirements for 17 and 18-year-olds.
“This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all,” Governor Cuomo, a Democrat said in a release announcing the bill’s signing.
I just signed a bill outlawing child marriage in New York State once and for all. We raised the age of consent for marriage from 14 to 18.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 20, 2017
Under the previous law which was signed in 1929, children were allowed to marry at 14 if they can get the necessary permission from their parents and the courts. That ends with this new law.
In United States, about 167,000 children were allowed to marry from 2000 to 2010 according to data from the non-profit group, Unchained at Last. In that same period, 3,800 kids were married in New York State alone.
In half the states, there are no laws mandating minimum age to consent to marriage and in the other half, the laws stipulate the age of 18 for consent to marry.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last month refused to sign the same law that would have banned under age marriage in his state.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vigorously defends child marriage, vetos ban citing “religious customs.” https://t.co/Omzzuqm6HM
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) May 11, 2017
A 2016 report from Tahirih Justice Center which is a non-profit that protects immigrant young women and girls, and the National Conference of State Legislatures confirmed that Alaska and North Carolina still allow 14-year-old girls to marry with parental and judicial consent.
Sherry Johnson, a New Yorker said that she was forced to marry at the age of 11 and by the age of 10 she had already given birth. Johnson described her married life as “terrible.”
“You can’t get a job, you can’t get a car, you can’t get a license, you can’t sign a lease, so why allow someone to marry when they’re still so young?” she asked.
The bill was sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin who said that because children are minors, they have no escape from forced marriage and have limited access to legal services and domestic violence shelters.
“Today, we bring an end to forced child marriage in New York State and set a precedent that the rest of the states should follow,” she said.
“Victims of child marriage are forced and condemned to a life that they did not choose with no means of escape, resulting in physical and mental health problems, loss of education and economic opportunities, and an increased likelihood of experiencing violence,” Assemblywoman Paulin added.
The founder and executive director of the organization Unchained at Last, Fraidy Reiss said last month that in order to change child marriage globally it must be solved in the United States.
Research shows that children forced into early marriages experience unwanted pregnancies, spousal abuse, higher rate of divorce and psychiatric disorders.
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