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[BREAKING] New York State Senate Votes to End Child Marriage

One Chamber Down, One to Go!

With a near-unanimous vote, the New York State Senate voted today to end child marriage in New York. Introduced by Senator Julia Salazar, Bill S3086 is a piece of “brightline 18” legislation that raises the minimum marital age in New York to 18—without exception. Legal loopholes enacted in 2017 have continued to allow forced and abusive marriages for seventeen-year-olds with parental and judicial approval.

After several years of attempts to get this bill passed, New York finally looks poised to end child marriage once and for all.

New York’s Existing Laws Allow Child Marriage

In 2017, New York passed important legislation against child marriages. While that legislation went far in limiting this abusive practice, it left open problematic loopholes in the law that still allow for countless child marriages.

Prior to the 2017 change, children as young as 14 were able to wed in New York. While eliminating the ability for 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old children to marry was an important step in fighting this human rights abuse, marriage license data has revealed that 73% of the children married in the state between 2000 and 2010 were 17-years-old.

In other words, the previous change only protected against a quarter of the child marriages being approved in New York. We need to do better.

Child Marriage in New York is a Human Rights Abuse

When we discuss underage marriage in New York, we aren’t talking about high school sweethearts and teenage love stories. These are harmful marriages consisting of young girls marrying older men. The statistics support this: 84% of the child marriages in New York these past two decades were minor girls being wed to older men.

The current law allows for child marriage with only parental consent and approval by the courts. With survivors of child marriage often being coerced into those marriages by their parents and guardians, this is clearly no protection against abuse. This is clearly visible in the harrowing experiences of child marriage survivors.

Child marriage has a myriad of harmful impacts, ranging from domestic abuse and economic insecurity, to the loss of education and psychological truama.

Tell the New York State Assembly to Act on Child Marriage

Now that the State Senate has passed S3086, it’s time for the State Assembly to do the same. Bill A3891 is currently pending before the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and we need your help to get it on the agenda. This bill has wide support and is a rare, no-brainer piece of legislation.

Ending child marriage in New York costs nothing, harms no one, and ends a human rights abuse in the Empire State.

Click here to email your lawmakers to act on A3891 and end child marriage in New York now!

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