If you think child marriage is a thing of the past, think again: Here in America, tens of thousands of children have tied the knot in recent years, perfectly legally. Now rights activists are asking why a wealthy modern democracy can deem a child too young to vote or smoke, but old enough to marry.
About half of US states set no legal minimum age for marriage, and several states have only weak oversight over the practice. So what does that mean for the rights of children in an age of women’s emancipation?
While there is much cultural debate over the nature of marriage as an institution, state laws generally define it as a legal union of consenting adults. But when minors are involved, the bounds of marriage for children in the United States might be loose enough to give a free pass to forced marriage, and the burdens of abuse and sexual violence that follow.