End Child Marriage USA Action

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Jump to State Action Impact of Child Marriage

Child Marriage is Legal in 38 States!

Ten  States have now 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

Join your State Coalition to End child 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

Missouri advances Law to End Child Marriage

The current Missouri state law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to get married in Missouri as [...]

Virginia Ends Child Marriage

Virginia becomes first Southern state to abolish child marriage April 16, 2024 Virginia became the [...]

Washington State Ends Child Marriage

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signs into law bill HB1455 to End Child Marriage We Ended [...]

End Child Marriage in WA Chain-in Press Event in Olympia

Please RSVP by Dec 15th Child marriage is an urgent problem in Washington. Dangerous legal [...]

U.S. Government joins the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to End Child Marriage

Zonta has supported ending child marriage since 2014, contributing US$2 million to delay early marriage [...]

Child marriage is still legal in California. How could this be? | Opinion

Opinion- Fraidy Reiss Sept 23, 2023 …”Instead, as The Sacramento Bee reported recently, California law [...]

Burbank CA Event to End Child Marriage in CA

Press Event Oct 5th. Noon – Burbank City Hall steps Speakers: Ela Pandya, Coalition Lead, [...]

Zonta Takes Stance Against Child Marriage Through Legislation- Burbank Leader

“Children married under the age of 18 often live a life full of hardships and [...]