Adults Can Marry Small Children in Twenty U.S. States. Ban This Now!

Did you know that 40 percent of U.S. states allow child marriage - with no minimum age required before getting married? It's true: once accounting for parental or judicial waivers, 20 U.S. states allow any age of child to be married off.

Between 2000 and 2018, nearly 300,000 children were married off inside the U.S. And in most of those cases, it was grown adult men marrying little girls.

This is heinous and clearly just a legalized form of child abuse. Demand that every U.S. state finally and explicitly ban child marriage now!

Child marriage is already sickening and horrifying. But it gets even worse. In the U.S., child marriage provides a legal loophole for sexual abuse, known as the "statutory rape exception." Most of the time, an adult engaging in sexual activities with a minor is against the law. But not when that adult and child are married.

This means that pedophiles and other perpetrators can get a literally "get out of jail free" card to rape and abuse a young girl as much as they want. That's why families and religious communities often use underage marriage as a way to avoid punishing child abusers in their midsts.

Even more shocking? Republicans in many states are refusing to ban child marriage. For example, in Wyoming, the current legal marriage age is ... nothing. There is no minimum age. Some state lawmakers want to change that, and have introduced a bill that would raise the age to 16 or 18 years old, depending on specific circumstances.

But Republicans in Wyoming are incensed, demanding the right to continue marrying off their children. Why? They say that this common-sense bill would interfere with and "arbitrarily" limit "parental rights and religious liberty."

Underage marriage is incredibly abusive and harmful to children. For little girls, it traps them in a nightmare of sexual assault, early pregnancy, and reduced educational opportunities. Families shouldn't be allowed to sacrifice their children's welfare in this way!

Lawmakers have a duty to protect the safety and well-being of all of the children in their states, and to ensure that they are not exploited, abused, or otherwise put in harm's way. Sign the petition to demand that every U.S. state finally and unequivocally ban child marriage once and for all - no exceptions!
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