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.

  • VirtualOdour@sh.itjust.works
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    4
    arrow-down
    4
    ·
    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
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      14
      ·
      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
        link
        fedilink
        arrow-up
        1
        ·
        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
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          1
          arrow-down
          1
          ·
          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
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          3
          ·
          edit-2
          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.