End Child Marriage USA Action

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Jump to State Action Impact of Child Marriage

Child Marriage is Legal in 45 States!

Only Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Minnesota
have banned child marriage.

Until every state — and every country —
enacts legislation to protect children,
particularly young girls, from being forced into marriage,
thousands of children in the USA remain at risk of missing out on education
and the chance to be a child.

Child “marriage” is harmful, and is a human rights violation that legitimizes abuse and denies girls’ autonomy.

When young girls are forced to marry, they are essentially subject to state-sanctioned rape and are at risk of increased domestic violence, forced pregnancy and negative health consequences, while being denied education and economic opportunity. Zonta and our partners advocate that the minimum age for marriage be set at 18, no exceptions.

Did you know that only two U.S. states meet this standard, and that the federal government provides a child marital exception for statutory rape?

Zonta USA, Unchained at Last, Unicef USA and Equality Now works around the world to end child, early and forced marriage.  The US should be no exception.

National Actions:


Contact your Senator and Representative today and ask them to support S.1071 and H.R. 2153.

Tell the US to End Statutory Rape Exception: – EqualityNow

Repealing 18 U.S.C. § 2243(c)(2) is a simple, commonsense step towards aligning U.S. law with international standards and discouraging child marriage and child rape in the U.S.

Prevent Child Marriage and Abuse of the US Immigration System – IWV

Urge your senators to support S.742 to close the visa loopholes that enable underage marriage

In the US and around the world, child marriage is a harmful practice that disproportionately affects girls. Every year, thousands of children in the US face pressure to marry before they are ready, and the majority of those children are girls being pressured to marry older men, PBS reported. Globally, 650 million girls and women alive today were married as children, according to Girls Not Brides.

Bills to eliminate Child Marriage  have been considered in 20 states, including Arizona, Florida, and Tennessee, in the past two years. But, while the proposed bills resulted in the strengthening of legislation and children’s rights in some states, only Delaware and now New Jersey have actually passed the bills intact.

Most states with Child Marriage restrictions have too many loopholes that don’t protect children.

Toolkit for Zonta clubs

Download the UnicefUSA – Zonta International toolkit  (Zonta login required)

(includes social media toolkit)

Join the Zonta USA Advocacy Action Network  (Open to all)

USA Action Center

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.

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.

Take Action Now

Updates on Child Marriage in the USA – From our Blog

Child Marriage is Legal in California

Let’s End this Human rights abuse BY MACKENZIE MAYS  https://www.latimes.com/…/why-child-marriage-is-still… Shocking that it is allowed Rep. [...]

Michigan Votes to End Child Marriage: Sends to Governor for Signature

After six years of our relentless advocacy, the #Michigan legislature just sent the legislation to [...]

Connecticut Ends Child Marriage – Becoming the 9th State

We just stood alongside Office of Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz as she signed the bill [...]

Vermont Ends Child Marriage April 21, 2023

Vermont governor signs bill raising marriage age to 18 MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A new [...]

A bill to require a minimum marriage age of 18 has stalled in the Legislature after several years of attempts.

By Claire Withycombe Seattle Times staff reporter Minors can still get married in WA, though [...]

A bill in Washington state to require a minimum marriage age of 18 has stalled again in the Legislature

By Associated Press | April 17, 2023, at 6:18 p.m. | OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — [...]

Washington State Legislature Fails to End Child Marriage

Claire Withycombe Seattle Times staff reporter Bill to End Child Marriage Passes Unanimously in State [...]