The governor claimed that signing the law would have “conflicted with religious customs.” Some of these loopholes include if the child has gotten pregnant or if the child receives parental consent. Can you imagine your parents arranging a marriage for you, prior to the age of 18? Yes, this is the reality for many people all over the world, but few realize this happens in America too. Alternatively, could you imagine getting pregnant at the young age of 13 and then being forced to wed? This is a terrifying reality for many victims of child marriage.
207,468 minors are known to have been married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015, but 10 states provided absolutely no data or inaccurate statistics on child marriage, so this number does not reflect the true scope of the issue. Of this number, most of the children were girls who were married to much older men, and many were as young as 13. Eighty-seven percent of these minors were girls, and although the majority were aged 16 or 17, many were much younger.
Amongst the youngest to get married were three 10-year-old girls in Tennessee, who married men between the ages of 24 and 31. Another young boy was married at the age of 11 to a 27-year-old woman in the same state.
It’s not just Tennessee; children as young as 12 were married in Alaska, Louisiana, and South Carolina, and 11 other states permit 13-year-old children to get married. Keep in mind that, in most of these cases, the minors were marrying older adults, not other minors. Only 14% of these minors were actually marrying other minors, but even still, is it really okay for a 17-year-old to marry a 13-year-old?