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  • Writer's pictureLogan Ginavan

Protecting Minors: Advocating for Legal Reform Against Child Marriage

Child marriage is a pressing issue that affects thousands of minors across the United States, including right here in Kansas. Despite progress in many areas of social and legal reform, the practice of child marriage persists, posing significant risks and challenges to the well-being of minors. In this blog post, we will explore the prevalence of child marriage, its detrimental impacts on young individuals, and the urgent need for legislative action to address this issue.


Before I get too far into this I want to thank Unchained At Last for opening my eyes to the outrageous practice of child marriage. All of the stats that I mention came from their website. I implore you to check out their website to read more about what I can only scratch the surface of in this post. You can find a link to their website at the bottom of this post. Now, child marriage remains a pervasive problem in the United States, with nearly 300,000 minors legally married between 2000 and 2018 alone. Shockingly, some of these marriages involved individuals as young as 10 years old, highlighting the alarming extent of the issue. While the majority of child marriages occur between minors aged 16 or 17 and adult partners, however the consequences are dire regardless of spousal age difference.


One of the most concerning aspects of child marriage is the potential for coercion and forced marriage, as minors have limited legal rights to escape an unwanted union. Unlike adults, minors often lack the autonomy and resources to seek legal protection or pursue divorce, trapping them in situations of exploitation and abuse. Moreover, child marriage constitutes a grave human rights violation, inflicting lifelong harm on young individuals and undermining their fundamental rights to health, education, and economic opportunities.


Girls, in particular, bear the brunt of these consequences, facing increased risks of domestic violence, reproductive health problems, and economic instability as a result of early marriage. Furthermore, child marriage serves to obscure instances of statutory rape, effectively normalizing what should be recognized as a sex crime. Approximately 60,000 marriages since 2000 occurred at an age or spousal age difference that should have triggered statutory rape laws, yet the legal institution of marriage has shielded perpetrators from accountability and justice.


In Kansas, the issue of child marriage is a matter of concern, albeit with limited data and awareness compared to other states. Current laws regarding child marriage vary state to state, with some states setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 without exceptions, while others permit minors to marry under certain circumstances, such as parental consent or judicial approval. However, the absence of comprehensive data on child marriage cases in Kansas makes it difficult to assess the full extent of the problem.


Without accurate statistics and reporting mechanisms, it is challenging to understand the prevalence of child marriage in our state and develop targeted interventions to address it effectively. Nevertheless, Kansas must confront the reality that child marriage persists within its borders, requiring measures to safeguard the rights and well-being of minors. By raising awareness, promoting education, and advocating for legislative reform, we can work towards ending child marriage and ensuring that every young individual has the opportunity to thrive free from exploitation and harm.


Child marriage is an issue that demands legislative reform to protect the rights and well-being of minors. While progress has been made in raising awareness and addressing the harmful impacts of child marriage, there is still much work to be done to enact meaningful change. One crucial step in addressing child marriage is to establish a uniform minimum age for marriage across all states, with no exceptions. Currently, state laws regarding the minimum age for marriage vary widely, creating inconsistencies and loopholes that perpetuate the practice of child marriage. By setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 without exceptions, states can send a clear message that child marriage is unacceptable and incompatible with the rights and dignity of minors. If elected, I would rigorously pursue legislation to set the minimum age of marriage at 18.


In addition to setting a minimum age for marriage, we must strengthen protections for minors already trapped in marriages and ensure that any marriage involving a minor is subject to rigorous scrutiny and safeguards. This includes requiring comprehensive background checks, parental consent, and judicial oversight to prevent coerced or forced marriages and protect the interests of minors. Moreover, states should prioritize the best interests of the child in all marriage-related proceedings, prioritizing their safety, well-being, and autonomy above all else.


Furthermore, we must enhance access to resources and support services for individuals at risk of or affected by child marriage. This includes providing comprehensive sex education, counseling, and legal assistance to empower young individuals to make informed decisions about their relationships and futures. Additionally, states should invest in community-based organizations and initiatives that work to prevent child marriage and support survivors in accessing the resources and assistance they need.


In conclusion, the fight against child marriage is not merely a legal battle; it is a fundamental human rights issue. As we navigate the complexities of our legal system and advocate for change, we must keep in mind the profound impact that child marriage has on the lives of young individuals. By championing legislative reform, we can work towards a future where every child is protected from the harms of early marriage and empowered to pursue their dreams and aspirations.


I want to again extend my deepest gratitude to Unchained At Last for helping open my eyes to this horrendous practice and all who have joined this important cause, whether through activism, advocacy, or legislative action. Your commitment to justice and equality inspires my belief that we may have a future free from child marriage. Together, we can create a world where every child is valued, protected, and given the opportunity to thrive.


Thank you for taking the time to read this post and for your dedication to ending child marriage. Let us continue to work together towards a future where all children can live free from the shackles of early marriage, and where their rights and dignity are upheld and respected. I want to once again ask that you take a little bit more time out of your day to read more about Unchained At Last and all the work they do. If you're anything like me, you're going to be fairly horrified at some of the things you'll learn.


Sources:

Unchained At Last

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