Just days ago, lawmakers in the state of Florida here in the US made a huge step in the right direction. They approved a bill banning child marriage under the age of 17.
The Florida governor intends to sign this bill into law. While 18 is the typical legal age for marriage across the US, child marriage is a huge problem. Every state seems to have some kind of loophole and many young children are being wed.
Previously in Florida, children of any age were able to marry if a pregnancy was involved and a judge approved. This left a woman (who was a young girl at the time) by the name of Sherry Johnson to be forced into marriage with her rapist at age 11, when her rapist was 20. She has been pushing for change for a very long time and is glad to finally hear that she has managed with the help of many to make a real difference.
This new bill has made marriage for anyone below the age of 17 a thing of the past in Florida. Under new Florida measures, those who are 17 years old are able to marry with parental consent but also face requirements like premarital preparation courses. It also states that they cannot marry someone more than 2 years older than them if they are only 17.
Johnson says she is very happy about this while it is not the 18 year age limit she had hoped for it is a huge change. She does not call this a victory but a mere milestone. Laws like this could have helped Johnson immensely.
Johnson told USAToday as follows in regards to how things would have been if this law had been passed in her time:
“It would have changed my life by not allowing me to get married, to continue to have children, to continue to have my downfall.”
“I would have been a single mother and I think I would have done well.”
In regards to the previous laws about marriage and age limits SFChronicle reported as follows:
If a pregnancy is involved, there’s no minimum age for marriage if a judge approves. A legislative staff analysis showed that between 2012 and 2016, 1,828 marriage licenses were issued in Florida to couples when at least one party was a minor. That includes a 13-year-old, seven 14-year-olds, and 29 15-year-olds.
In one case, a 14-year-old married a 15-year-old and in another, a man over the age of 90 was able to marry a girl who was 16 or 17 years old. In some cases, girls were allowed to marry men more than twice their age.
Could you imagine being 15 with a 29-year-old? The fact that this was being allowed in general is completely repulsive. I am beyond ecstatic at the change Florida has made and I hope other places follow suit. To learn more about this please check out the video below.
Image via The Rebel Circus