Child marriage, which activists describe as one or both parties entering a union while under age 18, remains legal in 37 US states. There are no federal laws against it, meaning minors can marry, with parental consent, before they can vote, drink, or buy lottery tickets in the majority of the country. Some states have a minimum marriage age on the books, which ranges from 15 to 18. Four states – California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Mississippi – do not specify any minimum age at all.

Many survivors say they felt trapped in their marriages. Some, like Kosnik, must rely on their spouses for financial support. Others are up against complicit parents, who sign off on forced unions. In many states, statuatory rape is not a crime within marriage, creating a legal loophole that entices predators and increases the likelihood of sexual abuse. “Child marriage can be seen as a workaround for child rape,” said Fraidy Reiss, founder of Unchained at Last.

The US government calls child marriage a human rights abuse and has committed up to $5.3m to prevent it “in regions, countries, and communities where interventions are most needed and most likely to achieve results”. American exceptionalism would lead people to associate these regions with the global south, not the US, Gupta says. “Of course it’s prevalent here, too.”

Close to 300,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2018 in the US, according to a study conducted by Unchained at Last; a small number of them were as young as 10. Because 78% of minors who wed in that timespan were girls with adult husbands, advocates frame their cause around saving underage girls from older men.

  • Aux@lemmy.world
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    5 days ago

    What the fuck is wrong with US? It feels like I’m leaving a comment like this way too often… What the fuck?

    • Jiggle_Physics@lemmy.world
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      3 days ago

      Most of the countries in the world have exceptions to the legal marriage age being set at 18+. Most allow 16 and up, many as low an 12. This exception is for when the parents consent to the marriage. This is in line with the US. So this issue is a world issue.

      • Aux@lemmy.world
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        3 days ago

        Marriage at the age of consent (which is usually 16) is not a problem, forced arranged marriage is.

        • Jiggle_Physics@lemmy.world
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          1 day ago

          Marriage, under those conditions, exists for arraigned marriage, and forcing under age kids to marry for whatever reason, pregnancy, etc. to save face. I guarantee you that very few people who married at 16, are deciding to marry, and then getting their parents to consent to it. This stuff exists because of antiquated ideology. They are there for fundies, and people who still think of kids, and women, as property, regardless of religious disposition. 16 is a compromise between the religious, and far right parties, and the rest of the government.

          • Aux@lemmy.world
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            1 day ago

            If the age of consent is 16 then you don’t ask your parents for an approval. That’s the point of the age of consent.

            Stop defending forced marriages please.

            • Jiggle_Physics@lemmy.world
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              24 hours ago

              The fuck are you talking about defending forced marriage? Do you have reading comprehension issues? Is English not your first language? The law is they can get married at 16, and often below, WITH CONSENT FROM THEIR PARENTS. I am sorry this is not jiving with your idea that this is a US problem. Most countries in the world work like this. This is a problem with humanity.

              What part of me saying this is a problem with the world, not just US, told you I was defending the practice? Seriously, is your reading comprehension poor, or do you struggle reading English? If it’s the latter then it is just a misunderstanding, if it if the former, well, there are many online resources to help with this.

    • VirtualOdour@sh.itjust.works
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      4 days ago

      If you heard as much about Korea, Singapore, Australia, Slovakia, or anywhere else then you’d say the same about them too. Not diminishing the problems in the US but the rest of the world is nuts too.

      • Aux@lemmy.world
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        4 days ago

        Well, as someone who doesn’t live in the US, I don’t see such high concentrations of utter nonsense from anywhere else.

        • VirtualOdour@sh.itjust.works
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          3 days ago

          I don’t live in the USA either but I’m here on lemmy where most news is American and all the social media is the same. Korea as one of.my examples has had a strimg of absolutely horrendous rape and abuse scandals which would rival epstine but they’re pretty much unknown in western media and discourse. Australian politics likewise is a total dumpster fire that barely registers beside American and European news, some people vaguely know about the guy that got firebombed for reporting on corruption because he was a YouTuber but there’s endless insanity going on which barely gets a mention in ozzy news let alone international news, and even if it did no one would read it or talk about it like we do with American news.

          • Aux@lemmy.world
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            2 days ago

            That’s different though. Dumb shit happens everywhere, but the US is one of the few places where that dumb shit is legal and systemic.

          • IndustryStandard@lemmy.world
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            3 days ago

            It is amazing how every country can see the decline of America. And then politicians pop up in other countries imitating what American politicians have done for years.

            They advocate for privatizing healthcare, deregulating businesses, and other American policies which we already know the result of. Using the exact same arguments as the American politicians. People still fall for it and vote in those populists. Of course no left wing politician ever mentions that the populist talking points are the exact same as we have heard from America.