Parents give many reasons for forcing their children into marriage, including controlling the children’s sexuality and behavior and protecting “family honor.” Often families use forced marriage to enhance their status or gain economic security.
Forced and child marriages happen almost everywhere, yet only 10 states or jurisdictions have specific laws that can be used to prevent or punish forced marriage.
The Tahirih survey focused on immigrants, and it identified child marriages or forced marriages, or both, in immigrant communities from 56 countries of origin in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, but it also identified such marriage in so-called American families.
Across the world, child marriage and forced marriage disproportionately affect girls and women.
Unchained at Last also requested health department data on the ages of people recently married in New York State, where 16- and 17-year-olds may wed with “parental consent” and 14- and 15-year-olds may wed with judicial approval.
More than 700 million women alive today were married before 18, including some 250 million who wed before 15, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Most live in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, but as these new numbers show, too many live right here in the United States.The survey found child marriage or forced marriage, or both, in families of many faiths, including Muslim, Christian (particularly Catholic), Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh.I have seen child and forced marriage in the Orthodox Jewish community, and I know survivors from Mormon and Unification Church backgrounds.IN the United States today, thousands of children under 18 have recently taken marital vows — mostly girls married to adult men, often with approval from local judges. The minimum marriage age in most states is 18, but every state allows exceptions under which children under age 18 can wed.The first common exception is for children marrying with “parental consent.” Most states allow children age 16 or 17 to marry if their parents sign the marriage license application.Most were age 16 or 17 and married with parental consent, but 163 were between ages 13 and 15, meaning a judge approved their marriages.Shockingly, 91 percent of the children were married to adults, often at ages or with age differences that could have triggered statutory-rape charges, not a marriage license.A survey by the Tahirih Justice Center, an NGO that provides services to immigrant women and girls, identified as many as 3,000 known or suspected forced-marriage cases just between 20, many involving girls under age 18.Tactics used against the victims included threats of ostracism, beatings or death.The article described incorrectly a marriage in New Jersey in 2006 and another one in 1996.In the 2006 marriage the groom was 18, not 10, while in the 1996 marriage the bride was 22, not 12.