New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed a bill banning all marriage involving children under the age of 17 in a move to eliminate child marriage in the state.
For 80 years until the passage and signing of the new law, children as young as 14 were allowed to marry in the state of New York if they received permission from their parents and the court. Despite complaints from critics who say such laws are used by parents to forcibly marry off young daughters against their will, laws in almost every state allow for children under the age of 18 to marry with parental consent or in the case of pregnancy. Last month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided not to sign a law that would have banned child marriage in his state. In more than half of all states, there isn’t even a minimum required age for marriage.
In a recent article by The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, a Florida woman recalled being forcibly married at age 11 to a 20-year-old member of her church who had raped and impregnated her.
“It was forced on me,” said Sherry Johnson, who described her married life as “terrible.”
“You can’t get a job, you can’t get a car, you can’t get a license, you can’t sign a lease,” she added. “So why allow someone to marry when they’re still so young?”
According to Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, victims of child marriage are more likely to suffer spousal abuse, psychiatric disorders, and decreased access to education and work opportunities. Paulin has hailed the signing of the new law for bringing “an end to forced marriage in New York,” and for setting “a precedent that the rest of the states should follow.”
Read the full story at The Independent.