NOW-NY celebrates Statewide child marriage ban, effective today

Press Releases / July 20, 2017

New Law Ends Child Marriage in New York State with Strongest Ban in the Country; New Jersey Must Act NOW

NEW YORK, NY (JULY 20th 1017) –  After a two-year-long campaign to end child marriage in New York State, the National Organization for Women – New York (NOW-NY) is celebrating that as of today children vulnerable to early, coerced or forced marriages have new rights and protections. NOW-NY is aiming to educate the public about the new law and connect kids, concerned bystanders, and communities with resources to get help if they or someone they know is being pushed into early marriage.

“We want every girl who is feeling pressured to marry someone she doesn’t want to marry to know that she has the right to say no. We are here for these young women and girls,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York.

NOW-NY is providing information about the law on its website along with resources that are available to help anyone who may be facing a forced or coerced marriage. Effective today, this new law making it a crime for children to marry is now the strongest statewide ban in the country. Governor Cuomo signed the legislation into law one month ago.

“Ending child marriage in New York is a major victory for girls, children and for human rights,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York. “We were proud to join the Governor in making this ban a priority for the state, especially at a time when the rights of women are under attack by the Trump Administration and a complicit Congress. It is important, now more than ever, to safeguard the rights of women and girls, and the law, effective today, does just that.”

From 2000 to 2010, 3,853 minors were married, 85 percent of whom were girls aged 14 to 17 wed to adult men. Until now under New York law, children as young as 14 have been allowed to marry with judicial and parental consent and without protections preventing a forced or coerced marriage. Legislation to end this practice was sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and State Senator Andrew Lanza. The new law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 20, ends marriage for 14, 15 and 16-year-olds and requires parental and judicial review and approval for 17-year-olds, who will be entitled to a court-appointed attorney with training on forced marriage.

Reports make clear that child brides are at higher risk of domestic violence, suffer higher incidences of mental and physical health problems, and are less likely to complete their education. Pregnant teen moms who marry are more likely to end up living in poverty than those who don’t marry. The U.S. State Department has called early and forced marriage a human rights abuse.

NOW-NY is next setting its sights on New Jersey by partnering with allies there to push for the enactment of a similar law. Ossorio said, “It’s vital that we continue to build on this momentum in the region and across the country to end this abusive practice. It shouldn’t be that you can just drive over the George Washington Bridge to marry off your 15-year-old daughter.”

Governor Chris Christie recently vetoed legislation that would have banned marriage for anyone under the age of 18 in the state.


NOW-NY advocates for the women and girls of New York, by safeguarding reproductive rights, creating economic opportunity and fighting against discrimination and violence against women.