Ending Child Marriage

A Resolution to End Childhood Marriage

WHEREAS according to the U.S. State Department, forced marriage is a human rights abuse;

Noting that forced marriage is recognized by the International Labor Organization as a form of modern slavery;

Recognizing that forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the consent of one or both people in the marriage, and realizing that family members threaten to or use force and threats to make someone consent to marriage; 

Noting that this issue does not just affect female victims; indeed, research suggests that 15 percent of the cases involve male victims;

WHEREAS in the United States, most states allow children much younger than age 18 years to marry, and as minors, these individuals have not been granted the legal protections of adulthood which is generally given at age 18 years.  Many minors have been married without true consent, i.e., as a forced marriage;

WHEREAS in many states, including NY, these minors are not even allowed to leave home, whether to escape from parents who are planning an unwanted wedding for them or to flee from an abusive spouse. In many states, children who leave home are considered runaways; police will take them back home against their will. In some states, children who run away can even be charged criminally;

WHEREAS child marriage is an urgent problem in New York.   In New York dangerous legal loophole allows 17 years olds (i.e., minors) to marry with parental “consent” and judicial approval. This loophole became law in 2017 in a move that was lauded as an end to child marriage in New York (previously, children as young as 14 were allowed to marry).  In fact, the 2017 law did not end child marriage, because 17-year-olds are legally treated as children.

WHEREAS the current NYS law puts 17-year-olds at serious risk of forced marriage and lifelong harm: 

  • When a minor is forced to marry, the perpetrators are almost always the parents. Parental “consent” often is parental “” 
  • The judicial review process does not prevent forced marriage, even with the so-called safeguards the 2017 law added. The “safeguards” acknowledge that child marriage often is forced but do little to mitigate the risk.
  • Minors are disempowered through the judicial review process, entered into marriages by parents and a judge.
  • Minors are automatically emancipated upon marriage, ending their parents’ financial obligation to them, often making the young person dependent on the financial support of a (frequently much older) spouse.
  • 73% of children married in New York between 2000 and 2010 were 17.4 years old.

WHEREAS NYS A3891/S3086 (End Child Marriage in New York), introduced by Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblyman Phil Ramos on 1/28/21, eliminates the dangerous loophole that allows child marriage at age 17. This change in NY law costs nothing, harms no one and saves girls (and boys) from a human rights abuse.  States and territories across the U.S., and countries around the world, are passing similar legislation.

BE IT RESOLVED, the Four Freedoms Democratic Club:

  • Supports the enactment of NYS A3891/S3086, acts that will end Child Marriage in New York, protecting our children and promoting human rights;
  • Supports the efforts of other states and governments to adopt similar laws and policies ending the scourge of childhood marriages.


Unchained at Last https://www.unchainedatlast.org


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