July Newsletter: Online marriage licenses can be exploited for child and forced marriage; In her church community, young AHA donor raises awareness of FGM

During these trying times, the well-being of our country is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. My op-ed in The Wall Street Journal and my interview on the Uncommon Knowledge podcast advocate for critical thinking and against a cultural revolution. Those were followed up by an interview on Fox News’ The Daily Briefing. On Tuesday night, I spoke about freedom of speech on Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum.
While I’ve been speaking out on serious issues our country faces, the Foundation has also been addressing significant issues that are not as widely discussed.
In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our daily lives have been altered significantly. To encourage people to stay home, several states recently passed bills that allow individuals to receive online marriage licenses in order to avoid in-person visits to the clerk’s office. While we understand the need for this legislation during the pandemic, we have one grave concern—in some parts of the U.S., this practice could be exploited to facilitate child marriages.
We are worried about children in states such as New York and California that are allowing online marriages without enacting legislation that bans child marriages. In our blog, hear from survivors of child and forced marriages who raise the alarm on the risks of this new legislation.
States like Pennsylvania and Minnesota, however, have alleviated this concern. With the help of AHA Foundation and supporters like you, these states have banned all marriages under the age of 18. This means that even with unforeseeable issues like a pandemic, children will always be protected from forced marriage in these states.
There are numerous ways to help in this fight against child marriage and other dangerous cultural practices. Jaclyn Soneff, an AHA Foundation donor from Colorado, distributed pamphlets at her church earlier this year to spread awareness about female genital mutilation (FGM) in the U.S. In Soneff’s blog, she describes her inspiration for speaking out, saying: “Only when [FGM] is brought into the light is when the wheels of justice can finally begin to turn.”
To better connect with our supporters, we will be sending you a brief survey via email. Please be on the lookout. We would greatly appreciate your responses!
We’ve made great strides in the battle against child abuse, but we still have so far to go—46 states plus the District of Columbia still allow child marriage and 12 states plus D.C. still allow FGM! Please contribute to the work of my Foundation, which is committed to ensuring every child in the U.S. is protected from these harmful practices.
Thank you for your continued support as we fight for the safety of these girls.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder