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.


Steering Committee

Jenn Bradbury,
child marriage survivor

Patricia Abatemarco,
child marriage survivor

Sara Tasneem,
child marriage survivor

Organization Allies

AHA Foundation


American Atheists

American Medical Women’s Association

Angry Black Muslim Woman


Break The Silence


Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network

Child Labor Coalition


CHILD USAdvocacy

Children’s Service Society

Coalition for Responsible Home Education


Ekahi Aloha

Equality Now

Family Service of Rhode Island

Feminist Majority Foundation


Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freedom United

Girls Inc.

Girls Learn International, Feminist Majority Foundation

Girls Not Brides

Girls Rights Project

Global Citizen

Global Girls Worldwide Women (GGWW)

Global Hope 365

Greater Lansing United Nations Association

Hunger Project

Illinois Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Association

Jews for a Secular Democracy

Justice of the Peace Association

K-mor Ministries

Katie Poirier Legislative Coalition for Victim’s Rights

Knots: A Forced Marriage Story

Lawyers for Good Government

LifeWay Network


Lynn’s Warriors

Mainstay REdefined

Massachusetts Citizens for Children

Muslim American Leadership Alliance

Muslims for Progressive Values

Naila Amin Foundation

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Consumers League

National Organization for Women

National Women’s Law Center

New England Arab American Organization

Nurses Against Human Trafficking

Paladin Project


Population Media Center

Post Mormon Ladies Group

Prevent Child Abuse Vermont


Reality of a Desi Girl

Reproductive Rights Coalition

Respect Our Health LLC


Safer Society Foundation

Sanctuary for Families

Secular AZ

Secular Coalition for America



Social Work in Progress

Society for Humanistic Judaism

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 Network

The Shafilea Ahmed Forum


UN Women USA Chicago Chapter

Unchained At Last



Uniquely Different

United Nations Association, Greater Chicago Chapter

Veterans Against Pedophilia

Women’s March LA

Worker Justice Center of New York



Zonta International

Zonta International, USA Caucus

Survivor Allies

Alandra Marfia

Aliya Abbas

Amanda Latham-Miller

Amber Wheeler

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

Brittany Wright

Christina Roskovich

Christy Parrott

Courtney Kosnik

Davinder Kaur

Debbie Bolyard-Holub

Delma P. Rojas

Dena Hassouneh

Denée Michele Lambert

Dew (Donna) Winegarner

Dorothy Nichols

Dr. Trevicia Williams

Elizabeth Sitton

Evelyn Lane

Flora Sager

Genevieve Meyer

Hasana Chaudry

Heather Scarpati

Hufsa Chaudry

Ismari Altamirano

Jamie Estermyer

Janette Sterner

Jasmine Cordova

Jasmine West

Jeanni Gentry Strait

Jessica Key

Jessica Milton

Judith Edwards

Julie Knight

Karlie Blackmore

Kathryn Clark

Kelsea Hendrix

Kristena Mitchell

Kristin Burns

Lauren Van Wagoner

Linda Kravets

Mandy Havlik

Marilyn K. Smith

Meghan Gillespie

Melissa Finley

Melissa Lietuvnikas

Michelle DeMello

Mila Krambo

Noelle Rose

Olga Muhammad

Rivka Chaya Nathan

Roda Osman

Romy Morgan

Safia Mahjebin

Saja Corven

Samantha Nicole Butler

Sarah Seely

Sasha K. Taylor

Selina Kyle

SGR Brown

Shana Lee Klinge

Shanti Karabaich

Sherry Johnson

Sheila Marie Cooper

Skylar Gordon

Sreya Vemula

Stephanie Gatton

Tabitha Peregory

Talina Mickelson

Tamara MC

Tamiko Gland

Tammi Burt

Tammy Monteiro

Terry Rosensteil

Tonya McCoy

Tonya Peldo

Valencia Young

Vida Opoku

Wendy Rose

Zondria Weems

Photo: Mattie Simas, Capture Humanity