Child Marriages –The Truth About This Global Crisis

Updated: Jun 8


As of 2020, globally, around 21% of young women were married under 18. Over a fifth of marriages involve minors who were likely coerced into being married as they cannot consent.

The Current Rates of Child Marriage is a continuing crisis, creating extreme hardship for these child brides and the children they bear.


According to UNICEF, fifteen million girls are married before their eighteenth birthday every year, translating into about 41,000 child brides per day in developing countries. But the truth is far worse, as the numbers confirm. 1 in 3 girls get married by age eighteen, and 1 in 9 girls get married by age fifteen.


Worldwide, approximately 650 million women and girls alive today were married before they turned eighteen.


Various factors contribute to the high prevalence of child marriage; drivers include gender inequality, cultural tradition, poverty, and economic/social insecurity.


Together, these factors fuel and sustain high rates of the practice worldwide. In cultures with patriarchal values, there is often a significant emphasis placed on controlling the sexuality and virginity of daughters.


Compounded with the social and economic profits that accompany child marriages, these attitudes incentivize the marriage of young girls over generations.


In impoverished countries, marrying off girls is seen as a financial solution to secure the future of both the family and the girls themselves. In fact, "more than half of girls from the most impoverished families in the developing world are married as children. Some of these girls are as young as eight or nine years old.


Many cultures encourage families to view investing in their son's education as more valuable than investing in their daughter's education. They use the marriage of young girls to lessen the economic burden on the family, repay debts, manage disputes, and form social, political, and economic alliances.


Child USA is a The National Think Tank for Child Protection.


Their Mission is: working to end child abuse and neglect in the United States. CHILD USA produces evidence-based solutions and information needed by policymakers, organizations, media, and society to increase child protection and the common good. Our goal is to help millions of children at a time.

In their 2020 Report on Child Marriage in the United States A National Overview of Child Marriage Data and Law

https://childusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-Report-on-Child-Marriage-in-the-US.pdf


Here are some key takeaways from this comprehensive report. Follow the link below to review statics and legislative efforts about Child Marriage in your State. Get an understanding of what legislation is currently in place.


“In the United States, child marriage remains a pervasive issue. A 2018 study analyzing marriage license data from 41 states found that at over 200,000 minors, 87% girls and 13% boys, were married in the United States between 2000 and 2015.16

It is estimated that between 8.9% and 11.96% of women are married as minors in the United States. While the general public often assumes that child marriage is an issue that doesn’t pertain to America, it is widespread across the country today.


Negative Consequences of Child Marriage Child marriage triggers severe adverse health effects in victims of child marriage and their subsequent offspring. The risk of death spikes for individuals who are victims of child marriage. Girls who marry under the age of fifteen are five times as likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than adult women, and 70,000 adolescents die annually in developing countries due to child marriage.


According to the World Health Organization, the leading cause of death globally for girls between the ages of fifteen and nineteen is complications from pregnancy and childbirth. In addition to the increased risk of death, child mothers face heightened risks of getting severe health conditions like obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition that renders girls incontinent and often results in the baby's death within the first week of life sexually transmitted infections and diseases.


In India, a study by the International Center for Research on Women found that girls who married before age 18 faced physical violence twice as often and sexual violence three times as often as girls who married after their eighteenth birthday.


Life-threatening health effects also plague infants and children born out of child marriages. Stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50% higher among offspring of child mothers than offspring of mothers between the ages of 20 and 29.


Child marriage also results in developmental consequences bearing individual and societal costs, both socially and economically. Victims of child marriage face increased educational obstacles that impact the rest of their lives. In some nations, “there is evidence of almost a binary option of either going to school or getting married early.


So, as young girls enter marriages, they are significantly less likely to receive education and the countless life-changing benefits that follow. For girls, increased educational attainment contributes to fewer childbirths, increased lifetime earnings, improved household income, reduced likelihood of experience intimate partner violence, and increased decision-making ability.


An Overview of Child Marriage in the United States Child marriage is a pervasive issue in the United States with devastating domestic consequences. Approximately 40 children are married each day in the United States.47 Child marriage advocacy group, Unchained At Last, estimates that 248,000 children were married in America between 2000 and 2010, 48 and marriage license data shows that at least three states granted 12-year-olds marriage licenses and at least 14 states granted 13-year-olds marriage licenses during that period.


Between 70% and 80% of marriages involving a child in the U.S. end in divorce, and child marriage followed by divorce doubles the likelihood that child mothers will descend into poverty.


Girls in the U.S. who marry before the age of 19 are also 50% more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college. From a health perspective, studies show that victims of child marriage in the U.S. are acutely vulnerable to higher rates of psychiatric disorders, as well as physical, emotional, or verbal abuse.


Despite the persisting issue of child marriage, there has been a consistent failure by the American government to take federal action to confront the problem. The U.S. Congress failed to ratify the two U.N. conventions that are the bedrock of international denunciation of child marriage. America is one of only three countries not to have ratified the CRC. 55 It also stands alone as the only country in the Western hemisphere and the only industrialized democracy that has not ratified the CEDAW.56


On the other hand, there is no federal law banning child marriage in America. States set different minimum age laws. So, while states like Delaware and New Jersey have universally banned child marriage, states with more lenient laws consistently approve marriages involving children under eighteen.


State laws lacking an age floor open the door widely for child marriage. Most states’ laws set the age of consent for marriage at eighteen but allow an array of exceptions to the rule. Without an age floor, a child of any age can be issued a marriage license as long as exceptions are met.


Age floors with no exceptions are one of the best ways to prevent child marriage in the United States.


Both parental and judicial consent can be motivated by factors other than the child's wellbeing, and child marriage exceptions that hinge on such consent puts children in danger.


State of California 2018, California State Senator Jerry Hill drafted a bill to prohibit marriage for all individuals under eighteen years of age. The legislation passed, but the law still allows any person under the age of eighteen to marry with the consent of at least one parent. California imposes additional requirements on the parties for child marriage, including mandatory interviews of the parties, considerations of a number of factors, requests for premarital counseling if deemed necessary, and other surmountable hurdles.


Nevertheless, California law permits children to marry as young as zero, and the legal barriers fail to function as significant hindrances to the practice of child marriage. No other legislation is currently pending.


Conclusion While many people cling to the flawed assumption that child marriage is not an American issue, the marriage of children occurs every day throughout the United States. A collection of states and territories have passed new laws to limit the prevalence of the issue, but these laws need to be more comprehensive, and all jurisdictions need to adopt them. Mandatory age floors at eighteen (with no difference in rules based on gender), proof of age requirements, residency requirements, and the elimination of parental and judicial consent exceptions are all crucial to ensure child protection.

Ultimately, a federal law banning marriage under the age of eighteen without exception will be the most effective way to thwart child marriage nationally and truly protect children.”


Global Hope 365


Works tirelessly with lawmakers to pass legislation in their towns, communities, and states to end child marriage. Changing the law to Eighteen Years Old with NO Exceptions


Help us end child marriage by educating yourself further, spreading awareness, donating to Global Hope 365, or participating in our digital Action Network letter-writing campaign to ban marriage under 18 in the U.S.! https://cacoalitiontoendchildmarriage.org/advocacy/


Visit globalhope365.org or this link to learn more:

https://www.unicef.org/stories/child-marriage-around-world

Raising Awareness. Saving Lives. Taking Actions- Your Support and Donations make a difference!


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