by Christie Renick, ChronicleofSocialChange.org
This summer, Virginia lawmakers passed a law preventing anyone under the age of 16 from marrying in the state.
Some would call this progress, but advocates fighting to end child marriage in the United States see it as a sobering reminder that adults can legally marry children in all 50 states.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), child marriage is “perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls,” and “marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights.”
Fraidy Reiss is the founder of Unchained at Last, a nonprofit that helps women and girls leave or avoid forced marriages, and advocates to end the practice of child marriage. She lived in an arranged marriage for more than a decade.