Zonta USA is a member of the End Child Marriage Coalition and works with UNICEFUSA and Unchained at Last to #Stopchildmarriages. Learn more and take action to end child marriage in your state at www.stopchildmarriages.org
NY Times Features Ending Child Marriage
Child Marriage Doesn’t Actually Happen Here, Right?
“That North Carolina, my home state, is tied with Alaska for the nation’s lowest legal age of marriage (though there are some states that fail to specify age floors in law, where even younger children can marry) comes as a shock to most North Carolinians. We often think of child marriage as a problem that’s over there — something affecting other countries — or long ago — between people of our parents’ or grandparents’ generations.”
“Our research found that between 2000 and 2019, at least 3,949 marriage license applications involving 4,218 minors were submitted in 50 of the state’s 100 counties that participated in our analysis. Presuming marriages involving minors occurred at similar rates in the remaining 50 counties and extrapolating figures for those counties according to population, we calculated that nearly 10,000 minors were involved in marriage licenses submitted statewide. We found that this would put North Carolina among the five states with the most child marriages. (This is a conservative estimate, as we struck many records that didn’t have complete information.)”
Why do Legislators continue to support Child Marriage despite Public Outcry?
“Yet at least one of the bill’s sponsors in the State Senate supported an amendment in committee that would have brought the minimum age back down to 14. It was legislators, not organized opposition, who were the primary obstacle, clinging to dangerous and unsubstantiated views on underage marriage.
Outcry was swift — including from the press, an attorney who has worked with minors seeking to marry in the state, advocates and local officials. After intense bipartisan negotiations, the bill was amended yet again to raise the age floor for marriage to 16, and that version of the bill passed without opposition in the Senate.”
Read the Full opinion here: