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Survivors of Child Marriage Share their Experiences at Child Marriage Survivor Stories Summit

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

July 22, 2020

Global Hope 365, the California Coalition to End Child Marriage, and the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the UCI School of Law hosted part one of the two-part Virtual Child Marriage Summit. The 2-hour summit engaged participants in a dynamic and meaningful way to learn from expert speakers as well as learn from Child Marriage Survivors by listening to their stories.


Rima Nashashibi, President and Founder, Global Hope 365

Cottie Petrie-Norris, Assemblywoman (D-74), California State Assembly

Michele Goodwin, Chancellor's Professor of Law and Director, Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, UCI School of Law

Jeanne Smoot, Senior Counsel for Public Policy and Strategy, Tahirih Justice Center

Kate Ryan Brewer, Director and Producer, Knots: A Forced Marriage Story

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-74) addressed the participants and offered strong support for ending Child Marriage. Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris noted, “When I learned that California has NO minimum marriage age, I was shocked and horrified.” In addition, policy experts offered additional background information on SB273, the current law in California, as well as efforts in other states to end Child Marriage.

Michele Goodwin noted, “Survivors are brave for coming forward and we must treat them and their experiences with the dignity and respect they deserve. To honor survivors of child marriage, those in law must do a better job of defending and protecting them. This also includes putting in place the appropriate social resources to more broadly address these issues at the family and institutional levels.” Jeanne Smoot of Tahirih Justice Center conveyed experience with advocacy in other states and effectiveness of reforms. Kate Ryan Brewer is the Director of Knots: A Forced Marriage Story, a feature-length documentary film that examines the truth about forced marriage in the U.S. through the complex and traumatic experiences of those who have survived it. Reflecting on her experience on filming the documentary, Kate noted, “Forced and child marriage in the U.S. is a nuanced issue that doesn't look just one way. Force, fraud, and coercion take on many different forms that can be subtle but are still devastatingly effective.”

Survivor Advocates:

Genevieve Meyer, Co-founder; Resiliency Foundation

Elizabeth Sitton

Sara Tasneem, Sara Tasneem Advocacy

Dawn Tyree

Four Child Marriage Survivors and Activists shared their personal stories in breakout rooms to allow for smaller groups and questions. Each survivor shared their story for 10 minutes and participants were able to ask questions. It allowed a heartful connection to the stories. Many left in complete awe of the strength of the survivors who shared their stories with us. The conclusion is that Child Marriage is Child Abuse! "The personal stories were very impactful, it made it real," commented one participant.

"Educational, Impactful, Shocking, Emotional, Mobilizing," "Really fantastic event," "Incredibly powerful and moving." These are some quotes about the event.

Action items:

  1. A replay of the plenary session. Click Here.

  2. Download the Resource Slides with key takeaways from all the speakers and survivors. Click Here.

  3. Please refer to the Coalition Members tab of this website for a complete list of Coalition Members, Elected Officials, and Community Leaders who have pledged their support for the Coalition. Click Here.

  4. Donate to support Global Hope 365 and our campaign to End Child Marriage. Click Here.

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