Underage Marriage Prevalence in Maryland:
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 1,683 minors aged 15 to 17 in Maryland are currently trapped in child marriages as of 2018, a startling 7 children per thousand. But, because this doesn’t include the thousands of survivors who have escaped child marriage, 1,683 is actually a significant underestimate of this widespread abuse. Read about America’s shameful child marriage statistics to learn more about this nationwide crisis.
The Statutes Which Enable Child Marriage in Maryland:
Maryland sets 16 as its lowest possible marital age. A minor can be married with the consent of just one parent or guardian—judicial approval is not required, and there is no mechanism to determine if the child actually consents to the marriage. Maryland is also one of only six states with a pregnancy exception, meaning that girls as young as 15 can be married if pregnant. Check out our State Statute Database to see the laws in your state.
We’re Making Progress to Reform Maryland’s Underage Marriage Laws:
Despite having the 4th highest rate of child marriage in the United States, a bill to eliminate underage marriage in Maryland has been introduced every legislative session for the last five years to no avail. State Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary tried again in 2019, but the bill was quickly amended down to merely raising the minimum marital age to 17.
Despite bipartisan support, clashing goals of preventing forced marriages while still allowing young girls their own autonomy and agency are preventing the Maryland legislature from acting. Students Against Child Marriage is determined to end the child marriage crisis in Maryland and protect young girls from across the country. Read more about the progress that we’re making and nationwide reform efforts.
Take Action Against Child Marriage in Maryland:
We are currently in conversation with lawmakers to determine what actions you can take to ensure lifesaving child marriage reform is passed in Maryland. Sign up for our Maryland Action List to be notified immediately once we have actions available.