Modern Feminism – Child Brides in the U.S.

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Modern Feminism – Child Brides in the U.S.

By Rael Wendrow, Reporter

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To almost anyone living in the United States, the idea that a girl as young as 11 years old could legally be married to someone twice her age seems impossible. The U.S. condemns child brides in any country and their own, because it’s just impossible right? 

Wrong. 

According to ABC News, Forbes, and the Irish Examiner, out of the entire 50 states, 14 have no minimum age requirements, 34 have a minimum age of 16 with parental consent, and only two have banned child marriage outright. Those two states are New Jersey, and Delaware. However, it was stated by Penn Live, Pennsylvania is taking into consideration a bill to set the legal age limit to 18.

And of course, that doesn’t properly highlight what the federal government does in regards to immigration. A documented report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the government approves thousands of requests made by adult men to bring a child bride or fiancee into the country over the past decade. In fact, the Immigration and Nationality Act has no minimum age requirement for a minor to apply for an adult, spouse, or fiancee visa. 

It appears that the U.S. disregards the morality of child marriages, even with its own people, within its own borders. Just so, the Tahirih Justice Center — a non-profit organization that provides legal and social services to immigrant women to protect them from violence — has revealed that there have been roughly over 200,000 child marriages right here in the U.S., between the years 2000-2015; and while the number is continuously decreasing, that doesn’t mean the problem is going away. 

Internationally, the act of marrying off your child is considered a violation of human rights. However, this information hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from cutting off all funding for reproductive health and family planning, directly impacting the ability to address the issue. Smart, right? It’s not even that bad when you look at it from a global scale. The U.S. is wealthy enough to make the number of marriages look minuscule compared to a still developing country with economic issues.

 But while the U.S. “recognizes” child marriage as a violation, they have yet to actually do anything about it. For instance, in 1995, the U.S. signed, but not ratified, The Convention on the Rights of the Child. That would set a nationwide minimum age of marriage to eighteen; and again in 1980 when they signed but not ratified The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage. Another organization, Girls Not Brides, has stated that there is a proposed commitment to eliminate child marriages, both forced and early, by the year 2030, which happens to be in 10 years. In the meantime, young girls are legally able to be married off even before the legal age of consent. This presents the risk of sex abuse, and a higher risk of death by childbirth. So is it really that impossible that the issue of child marriage exists in the U.S.?