Latest modern slavery fight updates -

Kentucky Child Marriage Ban Delayed by Conservative Group

  • Published on
    March 5, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Child Slavery, Forced Marriage, Law & Policy
Hero Banner

The US state of Kentucky is embroiled in a debate over banning child marriage as a planned vote on a bill that would outlaw the practice was delayed by opposition from a conservative group.

Under current state law, 16 and 17-year-olds can marry if they obtain their parents’ permission. Notably, girls even younger can also marry, but only if they are pregnant and marrying the father of their child.

The new bill would prohibit anyone aged 16 or under from marrying and prevent any 17-year old from marrying without the approval of a judge, who would have to be convinced that the minor is mature, self-sufficient and not being forced into marriage.

The Independent reports that the bill has hit a roadblock due to conservative opposition:

Despite strong support from Whitney Westerfield, Chairman of Kentucky’s Senate Judiciary Committee, a vote in the new bill was delayed last week after the conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky expressed concern about the wording.

Although the group does not oppose a minimum age, it wants to see parents retain their rights to give permission for minors to marry.

The legislation explicitly states that the “wishes of the parents or legal guardians of the minor” are not “sufficient evidence” to allow a 17-year-old to marry.

For advocates, this clause is a key part of the bill.

“Generally speaking, parents are responsible for their children,” Mr Westerfield said. “However, we’ve been working on a draft that involves parental consent on the front end but requires judicial oversight in each case to prevent abuse like we heard about during committee testimony.”

Donna Pollard is one such woman who testified about her nightmare of being married at 16 to a man almost twice her age. Her own abusive mother encouraged the relationship and is the one who consented to her daughter’s forced marriage. Pollard soon dropped out of school and became pregnant after becoming a child bride.

“I felt completely and totally trapped,” she said.

Kentucky’s Attorney General, Andy Beshear, is a strong supporter of the bill. “A parent should not be allowed to consent to their child’s rape and survivors of child marriage deserve a unanimous vote,” he wrote on Twitter.

The vote on the bill is likely going to be rescheduled for later this week.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tito A. Vilcapoma Hilario
Tito A. Vilcapoma Hilario
5 months ago

La ley que no trae justicia al pueblo , debe ser superada por una ley mejor 👨‍⚖️

This week

Modern slavery victims at the heart of U.K.'s controversial Rwanda deportation policy

In a significant development in U.K. immigration policy, the debate over the Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, recently renamed the Safety of Rwanda Bill, has intensified. Central to this controversy is the treatment of victims of modern slavery, with the legislative outcome heavily impacting their rights and safety. Legislative standoff After a prolonged standoff between the unelected House of Lords and the elected House of Commons, expectations

| Tuesday April 16, 2024

Read more