Particularly during times of great hardship, we’re reminded of the power that comes with collective action. That’s just what child rights advocates in Rhode Island are realizing this week following the passage of legislation banning child marriage in their state.
Did you know? Worldwide, 650 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Some are right here in the United States, where nearly 300,000 children were married between 2000 and 2018. Some were as young as 10; most were girls wed to adult men. Yet before this month, only four U.S. states – Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Minnesota – had successfully passed laws to prohibit child marriage with zero exceptions.
With the enactment of H5387/S398 on June 7, 2021, the U.S. took one giant step forward in the fight to outlaw child marriage nationwide as Rhode Island became the fifth U.S. state to end the practice with no exceptions and the third state legislature to do so unanimously. UNICEF USA applauds the passage of H5387/S398 and recognizes the leadership of Rep. Julie Casimiro and Sen. John Burke for introducing this measure as well as Gov. Daniel McKee who signed the bill into law – an extraordinary victory for child rights, particularly during a global pandemic.
These legislative accomplishments would not have been possible without our passionate UNICEF UNITERs, grassroots volunteers across Rhode Island who sent hundreds of messages to their state legislators in support of the bills. In these busy times, the collective voice of UNICEF USA supporters helped keep child protection top of mind for lawmakers and build support for this measure.
Read more here.
Number of Women and Girls At Risk: 25,000
Status: Existing Legislation Needs Strengthening
Improve by adding: Prosecuting parents/guardian, felony offense