Frequency of Child Marriage*
As Young as age 12
Some 248,000 children at least as young as age 12 were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010.
Data from 38 states showed more than 167,000 children wed in that decade. The other 12 states and Washington, DC, could not provide the data. For them, Unchained at Last estimated the number of children wed, based on the strong correlation Unchained identified between population and child marriage.
*source: Unchained at Last Research
Consequences of Early Marriage
Early End to Education
Lower Wages, Poverty
Increased Risk of Domestic Violence, Including Rape
Higher Divorce Rates
Higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
Early, frequent and higher risk pregnancies
Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth
Children born of child brides are 60% more likely to die in the first year of life
child marriages in the USA Are:
In the US and across the world,
child marriage and forced marriage
disproportionately affect girls and women.
Marrying Adult Men
And most of those girls were married to adult men.*
These were not “Romeo and Juliet” situations.
Some 77% of the children wed were minor girls married to adult men, often with significant age differences. Some children were wed at an age, or with a spousal age difference, that constitutes statutory rapeunder their state’s laws.
Source: Unchained at Last 2000-2010
Child Marriage is a REALLY BIG Problem in the USA
No Federal Laws Regulate Child Marriage
Each State Sets its own Legislation for Marriage Laws
Federal Laws do not even prevent “trafficking” of child brides”…
NO Minimum AGE
25 States do NOT have a minimum age for child marriage. See the Common Exceptions that allow for marriage below the legal age below*
No Way Out
- No Divorce Rights
- No Ability to File a Protective Order
- No Ability to Go to a Domestic Violence Shelter
Children in the U.S. typically are not allowed to initiate a legal proceeding in their own name. This means, in many states, children can be entered into marriages, typically by a parent or guardian, with little or no say from them – and then they are not allowed to file for divorce or annulment in their own name or even to seek a protective order.
Immigration for Child Marriage
A loophole in federal immigration law resulted in more than 5,000 cases of adults petitioning for visas on behalf of minors and nearly 3,000 cases of minors seeking to bring in older spouses or fiances, and enabled child marriages for children as young as 14 over a 10-year period, according to a report released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in January.
Urge your senators to support S.742
Protecting Children Through Eliminating Visa Loopholes Act
to close the visa loopholes that enable underage marriage
Exported for Child Marriage
There is emerging awareness of American girls being exported to other countries for child marriage. Unchained at Last is doing groundbreaking work and research into the problem of forced and child marriage, and through their work, they are finding examples of girls being sent overseas for forced and child marriages.
Forced Marriage is Serious Issue
How to know if there is Truly “Consent”
When a marriage is “arranged” and the bride and groom get the option to say no, they might face intense pressure from their families and society, or they might be too young and inexperienced to make such a life-altering decision. They might be rushed to give an answer, before they can fully think through their options. They might be bribed or tricked. They might be grappling with implicit and/or explicit threats about the harms that will befall them and their families if they do not agree to a marriage. They might be subjected to actual violence: locked up, beaten or shunned until they say yes. More…
wHICH STATE HAS THE HIGHEST RATE OF CHILD MARRIAGE?
Many states do NOT collect data on Child Marriages. This reflects 2000-2010.
District of Columbia
Where is the System Broken
* What are the common Exceptions to Legal Age for Marriage?
Common Exception 1: Parental Consent
In most states, children age 16 or 17 can marry if their parents sign the marriage license application. Obviously, one child’s parental consent is another child’s parental coercion, but state laws do not call for anyone to ask the children whether they are being pressured into marriage. Even when a girl sobs openly while her parents sign the application and force her into marriage, the clerk has no authority to intervene.
Common Exception 2: Judicial Approval
In many states, judicial approval lowers the marriage age below 16, and many states do not specify a minimum age below which a judge may not approve a child marriage. Typically, states allow judges to approve marriages for couples whose ages or age differences should trigger a statutory-rape charge, not a marriage license.