Opinion | One Down, but 49 States Still Allow Child Brides

Some say that they oppose marriages at 13 but not at 17, and it’s true that some underage marriages work out high quality. I grew up in rural Oregon, the place one among my neighbors was a faithful spouse who had married at 16.

Juliet was 13 when Romeo courted her (though that didn’t work out so nicely). But marriage typically ends a woman’s training, and when one thing goes mistaken, a 16- or 17-year-old spouse faces explicit difficulties: She can not flee to a home violence shelter, which generally won’t take anybody below 18, and in some states, an underage woman fleeing an abusive marriage is legally a runaway.

Marriage legal guidelines are principally a matter for the states, but there may be room for federal motion. American women in immigrant households are generally pressured to marry a distant relative overseas as a manner of bringing him to the United States, and it needs to be a easy matter to ban partner visas until each events had been 18 on the time of the wedding.

“It’s degrading to let teenagers marry; it’s not a beautiful thing,” Sonora Fairbanks, now 39, informed me, and she or he is aware of what she’s speaking about: She was married when she was 16 to a person greater than 10 years older.

Fairbanks was raised in a deeply Christian household, home-schooled and never allowed thus far. She stated her mother and father started speaking to her about marrying her future husband when she was 15, partly for her to keep away from teenage wildness, and she or he went together with it as a result of she felt stifled and thought the one approach to escape was by way of marriage. Oh, and she or he was keen to find intercourse. “I was a typical horny teenager,” she defined. (Fairbanks’s marriage turned toxic and finally disintegrated.)

It’s irritating that legislators cling to archaic marriage legal guidelines linked to a lot abuse; at Unchained at Last, the spreadsheet itemizing marriage legal guidelines by state is labeled “BYHAWS,” quick for Banging Your Head Against the Wall Spreadsheet. But now, with Delaware main, it appears the wall might lastly be giving manner.

“We finally have one state that shows us that it’s possible,” Reiss informed me. “One state down, 49 to go.”

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