Child marriage, which activists describe as one or both parties entering a union while under age 18, remains legal in 37 US states. There are no federal laws against it, meaning minors can marry, with parental consent, before they can vote, drink, or buy lottery tickets in the majority of the country. Some states have a minimum marriage age on the books, which ranges from 15 to 18. Four states – California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Mississippi – do not specify any minimum age at all.

Many survivors say they felt trapped in their marriages. Some, like Kosnik, must rely on their spouses for financial support. Others are up against complicit parents, who sign off on forced unions. In many states, statuatory rape is not a crime within marriage, creating a legal loophole that entices predators and increases the likelihood of sexual abuse. “Child marriage can be seen as a workaround for child rape,” said Fraidy Reiss, founder of Unchained at Last.

The US government calls child marriage a human rights abuse and has committed up to $5.3m to prevent it “in regions, countries, and communities where interventions are most needed and most likely to achieve results”. American exceptionalism would lead people to associate these regions with the global south, not the US, Gupta says. “Of course it’s prevalent here, too.”

Close to 300,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2018 in the US, according to a study conducted by Unchained at Last; a small number of them were as young as 10. Because 78% of minors who wed in that timespan were girls with adult husbands, advocates frame their cause around saving underage girls from older men.

  • drdiddlybadger@pawb.social
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    9 days ago

    The US having child marriage is one of the many shitty things about this country. We must change this urgently. It’s fucking shitty and serves no greater purpose.

    • thefartographer
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      9 days ago

      Pedophilia, slavery, and corpo-kleptocracy: the pillars of American patriots

    • DessertStorms@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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      It’s fucking shitty and serves no greater purpose.

      Of course it serves a greater purpose, in the eyes of those who are in favour of it, otherwise they wouldn’t want to keep/extend it.

      Keeping women and girls in subservient vulnerable positions, and men satisfied and in positions of power (even if it’s only within their own home, where they get to then take their rage and frustration at having no real power elsewhere out on their wives and children), is what the patriarchy is all about.

      It also serve capitalism, in that the girls in these marriages are much more likely to be kept in the abusive relationship and have more kids than average, kids who will become workers (E: with both parent and children being home schooled by their respective parent or “educated” by the church, making them more easy to manipulate and exploit).

      It also serves christofascist white supremacy, which has manufactured racist nonsense like “the great replacement” theory to ensure fundamentalists only marry and reproduce within the group, ensuring its survival.

      None of these things are bugs, they are features of these systems, and until as a society we confront that, we will never be able to tear them down and be free.

    • mecfs@lemmy.world
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      Things are (way too slowly) getting better:

      As of June 2024, 13 states have banned underage marriages, with no exception: Delaware (2018),[2]New Jersey (2018),[3] Pennsylvania (2020),[4]Minnesota (2020),[5] Rhode Island (2021),[6] New York (2021),[7] Massachusetts (2022),[8] Vermont(2023),[9] Connecticut (2023),[10] Michigan(2023),[11] Washington (2024),[12] Virginia (2024)[13] and New Hampshire (2024).[14] American SamoaU.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, all United States territories, have also ended child marriage in that time.[15][16] Several other U.S. states have similar legislation pending.[17]

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_marriage_in_the_United_States

      • jumjummy@lemmy.world
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        How the hell does California, a relatively progressive state compared to many of the other US ones, still allow child marriages? I’m sure it’s those pockets of deep red outside the big cities.

        • VirtualOdour@sh.itjust.works
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          I looked it up, the ACLU said it “unnecessarily intrudes on the fundamental rights of marriage without due cause” and fought prior attempts to legislate against it. Planned Parenthood were against it because they said it was a slippery slope that might affect abortion rights (I didn’t see rational for this supplied but assume they have some)

          So it wasn’t Hollywood as the other poster glibly asserted, actually movies like ‘childbrides of the ozarks’ were important in brining it to popular attention and helping initial pushes against it. Currently there are democrats pushing for legislation to ban in, supported in many case by the ‘evil Hollywood elites’ as seen from conspiracy theory world as they’re big donors and fund raisers for democratic causes but also ACLU and PP so possibly yeah they were slightly involved in the ban being resisted but not in the way suggested.

          The ACLU have since chances their stance on child marriage, I imagine planned parenthood have too but I couldn’t find that stated. Most current resistance is coming from religious focused Republicans.

          • jumjummy@lemmy.world
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            Most current resistance is coming from religious focused Republicans.

            Yep, that’s on brand for sure.

      • work is slow@lemmy.world
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        9 days ago

        Sometimes I upvote/downvote posts and comments on accident while scrolling… I might be giving people too much credit though.

        • QualifiedKitten@lemmy.world
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          9 days ago

          Same for me! The majority of the times I’ve noticed it is when I happen to scroll past the same post/comment a second time, so I wonder how many I haven’t “corrected it”?

      • Flying Squid@lemmy.world
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        There is some very pathetic person who goes through my post history and just downvotes every comment regardless of what is said, meaning they have downvoted me doing things like telling someone I sympathize with them or even just me thanking someone. It’s bizarre. People think internet points matter on Lemmy when they didn’t even matter on Reddit where a tally was being kept.

  • cmoney@lemmy.world
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    Another not so fun fact is that once the child is married their new spouse is now their guardian. So the child has to have their guardian sign off on legal issues like divorce, or wait till they are of legal age.

    • girlfreddy@lemmy.caOP
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      50 years ago I was living with a guy who decided to beat me one night. After he fell asleep I walked over to the emergency clinic to get checked out. But because I wasn’t 18, and neither of my parents lived in the same province as I did, the hospital made me go back home to get my 18 yr old boyfriend’s signature … so the guy who just kicked the shit out of me had to give the hospital permission to help me.

  • Aux@lemmy.world
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    What the fuck is wrong with US? It feels like I’m leaving a comment like this way too often… What the fuck?

    • Jiggle_Physics@lemmy.world
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      Most of the countries in the world have exceptions to the legal marriage age being set at 18+. Most allow 16 and up, many as low an 12. This exception is for when the parents consent to the marriage. This is in line with the US. So this issue is a world issue.

    • VirtualOdour@sh.itjust.works
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      If you heard as much about Korea, Singapore, Australia, Slovakia, or anywhere else then you’d say the same about them too. Not diminishing the problems in the US but the rest of the world is nuts too.

  • homura1650
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    Its not a human rights violation in the US because the US is the only member of the UN that never ratified the UN convention on the rights of the child.

  • BigMacHole
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    There’s NO WAY the people FIGHTING to keep Child Marriage LEGAL are Republicans trying to Save The Children! NO WAY! It’s probably DRAG QUEENS doing it!

  • cygnus@lemmy.ca
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    Close to 300,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2018 in the US, according to a study conducted by Unchained at Last

    Well that’s not so bad, I best most of them married someone who is also a minor…

    78% of minors who wed in that timespan were girls with adult husbands

    Oh, shit.

    • Mirshe@lemmy.world
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      A LOT of insular religious communities and congregations use it to “make right” cases of sexual assault and rape - since the Bible specifically says if someone rapes your daughter, the rapist has to marry them.

  • ALQ@lemmy.world
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    The US government calls child marriage a human rights abuse […] has committed up to $5.3m to prevent it “in regions, countries, and communities where interventions are most needed and most likely to achieve results”

    .

    Close to 300,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2018 in the US […]; a small number of them were as young as 10.

    The cognitive dissonance in the US is almost physically painful.

    • catloaf
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      The reps from the states where it isn’t illegal would vote against it. No points for guessing their political affiliation.

      • Treczoks@lemmy.world
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        9 days ago

        Indeed they would. And then you can call them child molesters without shame, they have proven it.

      • not_that_guy05@lemmy.world
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        Woah there buddy. California is not one to swing that way. I bet majority of Californians don’t even know about not having an age limit just like I learned today by reading the article.