Forced Marriage: Young Girls are Victims When U.S. Laws Defer to Religious Dogma

Forced Marriage In The United States: The Religious Tradition That Ruins the Lives of Young Girls

The practice is legal in 48 states. In 18 states, there is no minimum age for legal marriage. 

Approximately 248,000 children, some as young as 12, were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010. 

Girls who marry as minors are twice as likely to live in poverty and three times more likely than older women to be physically abused by a spouse. Between 70 to 80 percent of these marriages end in divorce.

The U.S. State Department has called marriage before age 18 a “human rights abuse.” Children can easily be forced to marry before becoming legal adults because they face overwhelming legal and practical barriers if they try to leave home, enter a domestic violence shelter, retain an attorney, or bring legal action. 

In states that allow exemptions from marriage age limits, parental consent requirements do practically nothing to mitigate the risks of forced child marriage.

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