United States’ child marriage problem

Child marriage — or marriage before age 18 — remains legal in most of the U.S. And it is happening at an alarming rate: According to research from Unchained At Last, nearly 300,000 children, some as young as 10, were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018. Most were girls wed to adult men.

Child marriage creates a nightmarish legal trap, due to minors’ limited legal rights. They cannot easily leave home, enter a domestic violence shelter, retain an attorney or even file for divorce. Further, child marriage is recognized as a human rights abuse that destroys nearly every aspect of an American girl’s life.

And child marriage undermines statutory rape laws: At least 60,000 marriages in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018 occurred at an age or with a spousal age difference that should have been considered a sex crime.

National Coalition to End Child Marriage in the U.S.

Unchained At Last and Equality Now have convened the National Coalition to End Child Marriage in the United States to bring together organizations and individuals determined to end child marriage in the U.S.

The mission of the coalition is to end all marriage before age 18 in the U.S., without exception. The coalition pursues various approaches in pursuit of this mission, including:

  • Amending the federal laws that encourage child marriage; and
  • Supporting state-level advocacy to set a marriage age of 18, no exceptions, in every U.S. state.

All civil society organizations that are committed to ending child marriage in the United States and agree with the coalition’s mission, including Girls Not Brides members, are invited to join the coalition. Survivors of child marriage also are invited to join.

Message for survivors of child marriage: Whether or not you join the National Coalition to End Child Marriage, you can contact Unchained At Last here to get support.

Co-convenors

Steering Committee

Jennifer Bradbury,
child marriage survivor

Patricia Abatemarco,
child marriage survivor

Sara Tasneem,
child marriage survivor

Organization Allies

ALEPH

American Medical Women’s Association

Break The Silence

Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network

DANDOR

Ekahi Aloha

Girls Not Brides

Illinois Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Association

Katie Poirier Legislative Coalition for Victim’s Rights

K-mor Ministries

Knots: A Forced Marriage Story

Lawyers for Good Government

LifeWay Network

Mainstay REdefined

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Women’s Law Center

Polaris

Post Mormon Ladies Group

Respect Our Health LLC

Social Work in Progress

Soroptimist International of the Americas

St Francis Justice & Peace Group

Stella’s Girls, Inc.

Students Against Child Marriage

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP Network)

SWLA Abolitionists

The Shafilea Ahmed Forum

UNICEF UNITE

Uniquely Different

Veterans Against Pedophilia

Women’s March LA

Worker’s Justice Center of New York

YWCA

Survivor Allies

Aliya Abbas

Amanda Latham-Miller

Angie Sparks

April Lynn Olinger

April S. Kelley

Asuma J. Jalloh

Barbara Kitchens

Beth Ann Bird

Billie Jean Ove

Bonnie Randall

Brandy Bissell

Brandy Kirkpatrick

Brigitte Combs

Christina Roskovich

Christy Parrott

Davinder Kaur

Debbie Bolyard-Holub

Delma P. Rojas

Dena Hassouneh

Denée Michele Lambert

Dew (Donna) Winegarner

Dr. Trevicia Williams

Elizabeth Sitton

Evelyn Lane

Genevieve Meyer

Hasana Chaudry

Heather Scarpati

Hufsa Chaudry

Ismari Altamirano

Jamie Estermyer

Jasmine Cordova

Jasmine West

Jessica Key

Jessica Milton

Judith Edwards

Karlie Blackmore

Kathryn Clark

Kelsea Hendrix

Kristena Mitchell

Marilyn K. Smith

Meghan Gillespie

Melissa Finley

Michelle DeMello

Mila Krambo

Noelle Rose

Olga Muhammad

Roda Osman

Romy Morgan

Safia Mahjebin

Samantha Nicole Butler

Sasha K. Taylor

Shana Lee Klinge

Shanti Karabaich

Sherry Johnson

Sheila Marie Cooper

Skylar Gordon

Stephanie Gatton

Tabitha Peregory

Tamara Mikell Choudhury

Tammi Burt

Tammy Monteiro

Terry Rosensteil

Tonya McCoy

Tonya Peldo

Vida Opoku

Wendy Rose

Zondria Weems

Photo: Mattie Simas, Capture Humanity