By Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, Women's eNews, October 27, 2021
Headlines are sprouting everywhere about new court cases which may endanger Roe v Wade. But abortion is not the only issue that is critical to female control of their bodies. We tend to think about child marriages as something that happens in distant third-world countries, but not in the U.S. Unfortunately, that is far from true.
In this country, there is no federal legislation regarding age of marriage, and states have the right to set their own standards, leading to tremendous state-by-state variation. Forty-five states in America continue to allow girls and boys under 18 to wed. Nine states have established no absolute minimum age for marriage. Girls as young as 10 are occasionally married quite legally in the United States. Nine states have established no absolute minimum age for marriage.
A 2021 study found that nearly 300,000 children — age 17 and under — were married in the United States from 2000 to 2018. An overwhelming majority were 16- or 17- year-old girls, on average marrying a man four years older. But more than 1,000 were 14 or younger, and five were only 10 years old.