Last week, New York became the sixth state in the U.S. to ban child marriage after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that officially raises the legal age of marriage to 18 with no exception.
Crucially, this bill will help prevent forced child marriages by removing the loophole that facilitates parental coercion.
The Freedom United community helped power the fight against child marriage in New York, with our partners Unchained at Last and our allies in the New York Coalition to End Child Marriage, by sending memos of support to the legislature, collecting petition signatures and working directly with survivor advocate Fatemah to escalate the campaign.
Forced marriage can happen at any age and to anyone making it difficult to tackle properly. However, by increasing the age of marriage to 18, we are getting one step closer to addressing the issue of forced child marriage. No child should have to be forced to marry and leave school.
Together, we built pressure by tweeting at Governor Cuomo to sign the bill into law just last month, demonstrating global public support for this legislative change.
Human Rights Watch reports:
Between 2000 and 2018, nearly 300,000 children under the age of 18 were legally married in the US. Around the world, 12 million girls under age 18 marry every year.
Married children usually leave school and are more likely to live in poverty. Married girls are more likely to experience domestic violence than women who marry as adults; child brides also face serious health risks, including death, due to early and closely spaced pregnancies.
We welcome New York joining Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in protecting children from forced child marriage but there is still work to do – child marriage is still legal in 44 states.
Join the campaign against forced marriage and let’s keep up the pressure to see child marriage banned in ALL states.