End Child Marriage in NY: A Hidden Epidemic
Under current New York State law, the minimum age of consent for marriage is 18. However, loopholes in the law allow for 16 and 17-year-olds to be married with parental consent, and for children as young as 14-years-old to be married with both parental and judicial consent. Often, “consent” can mean coercion.
According to New York State Health Department data, 3,853 minors were married in New York State between 2000 and 2010. A vast majority (85 percent) of the children who were married in the state between 1997 and 2010 were minor girls wed to adults. Globally, there is momentum to push for an end to child, early, and forced marriage because of its known harms, particularly for girls. There is strong evidence that marriage under the age of 18 precipitates long-term negative outcomes, particularly for girls’ educational attainment, economic status, and freedom from violence—girls married before the age of 18 are three times more likely to be beaten by a spouse than women who marry at 21 or older. Additionally, victims of child marriage are more susceptible to maternal mortality.
See Human Rights Watch’s video on child marriage below, and check out their recent press release on ending child marriage in New York here.
Here’s How NOW-NYC is Fighting to End Child Marriage in NY:
NOW-NYC has been engaged in a multi-year campaign to pass legislation ending child marriage in our state. Join us to ensure that 2017 is the year we take action to end this human rights abuse here at home. On February 14, 2017, NOW-NYC president, Sonia Ossorio, along with Unchained at Last and other partners, went to Albany to protest the marriage age in New York, and call for legislation to end child marriage in our state. In particular, NOW-NYC is working to pass bill A.5524 (proposed by Assemblymember Amy Paulin), which would would prohibit marriage before the age of 17, and put protections in place to prevent forced or coerced marriages for minors.
Take Action to End Child Marriage NOW:
Ask your Assembly Member to help New York end child, early, and forced marriages by co-sponsoring Amy Paulin’s Bill A.5524. Find your district’s Assembly Member in the directory here.
Follow this script when you call your Assembly Member:
Hello, my name is_____ and I am a constituent living in _____. I am asking for you to support legislation that will end child marriage in our state, A.5524, sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin. Our U.S. State Department recognizes child marriage as a human rights abuse, but we are allowing girls in our state to get married. This has to stop NOW.
Check out our End Child Marriage action page here.
Child Marriage Survivors Share Their Experiences:
“I was barely 17 when I got married in New York. I came from a poor family, in an insular Hasidic community where everyone’s marriage is arranged at a young age. I didn’t have any other choices in life. Somebody suggested to my parents that I marry this boy, who comes from money.”
– Esther, a client of Unchained at Last
“My dad gave him (her arranged husband) his 15-year-old daughter to rape and beat. The first night he entered our bedroom, I wanted to disappear or have the ground open up and swallow me. He tried to touch me but I was not having it. I remember making a barrier in the bed. It was a very uncomfortable night.”
-Naila Amin, a student at Nassau Community College
Read More About Ending Child Marriage:
N.Y. Lawmakers Push To Raise The Age For Marriage To 17 | Albany Times Union
It’s Time To End Child Marriage In New York | Human Rights Watch
Why Does the United States Still Let 12-Year-Olds Get Married? | Washington Post
America’s Child-Marriage Problem | New York Times
Report: Forced Marriage in Immigrant Communities in the United States | Tahirih Justice Center
Information on Getting Married in New York | New York State Department of Health
About Forced Marriage | Unchained at Last
The Age of Marital Capacity: Reconsidering Civil Recognition of Adolescent Marriage | College of William & Mary Law School
Is Teen Marriage a Solution? | Center for Law and Social Policy
Early Teen Marriage and Future Poverty | Demography Journal
A Strange Map of the World’s Child-Marriage Laws | The Atlantic