February Newsletter: Call on Congress to close the loophole responsible for thousands of child marriages, Professor details the history of child marriage in the U.S., Social worker from Connecticut speaks out on advocacy

Dear AHA Foundation Supporter,

On Valentine’s Day, we launched a petition asking supporters to urge Congress to close the immigration visa loophole that incentivizes child marriage in exchange for U.S. citizenship. A day after, the White House announced new rules to heighten scrutiny of visa petitions to bring in underage fiance(e)s/spouses to the U.S.

We applaud this step, but it is far from enough. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the first agency that considers the petitions, cannot fully protect children until a minimum marriage age of 18 years old is added to Immigration and Nationality Act. Congress must step in and tackle this issue. Every signature in our petition means we are one step closer to ending this child abuse. Please help by sharing the petition.

In his recent book, Dr. Nicholas Syrett, the Chair of the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies department at the University of Kansas, exposes the forgotten history of child marriage in the United States. He busts open the widespread myths about this form of child abuse in our country and explains some of their originsWe asked Dr. Syrett to share highlights from his book American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States here in our blog.

Social workers are on the front line of protecting children in the United States from abuse. For Brian Donahue — a child welfare advocate and social worker in Connecticut — helping children and their families during work hours was not enough. He took it upon himself to identify state legislators to sponsor a bill that would ban child marriage in his state. Then, he galvanized support for the bill within his church and local community. Learn about how Brian became a change maker in his community, and how you can too!

February 6th was International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Grace Roebuck, a junior at Vassar College and fellow in our campus program, wrote a blog Cutting Away the Sexual Ferocity of Babies: A Blog by CTF Fellow on Zero Tolerance Policies for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Through advocacy, Grace raises awareness about and calls for an end to female genital mutilation, human trafficking, and honor violence. Read her blog here.

If you have not had a chance, please sign and share our petition to end the child marriage loophole.

With great gratitude for your support,

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder

Ayaan Hirsi Ali