Thanks to AHA’s supporters, we achieved a HUGE victory against child marriage in Michigan!

Child marriage in Michigan

Survivors and advocates celebrate the signing of a bill package ending child marriage in Michigan. AHA's Michele Hanash is sixth from the right.

Published 9/29/2023 

AHA Foundation is delighted to share the news with you that just days ago, Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan, signed a bill package banning child marriage in her state!

In July, we were proud to report that some of the package had been passed, but the rest of it had to wait until September due to procedural technicalities (read more here). Now that the required bills have been signed, Michigan joins nine other states in taking a stand against this abusive practice.

We are now one step closer to ending this abuse across the entire nation. We will not rest until every child in the U.S. is protected.

A huge thanks to our supporters who made this victory possible. Without your help, our work over the past five years advocating for this bill alongside brave survivors and our partners would never have been possible.

Our Director of Policy and Women’s Programs, Michele Hanash, made three in-person trips to meet with legislators and testify at hearings just this year. You can watch an excerpt of Michele’s testimony in support of the bill package at the Michigan Senate Judiciary here and you can view the full hearing, including the rest of her testimony, here.

In response to the news from Michigan, Michele had this to say:

“I am originally from Michigan, so the passage of this bill meant a great deal to me personally. I am so proud of Michigan for making it into the “Big Ten” of states that have ended this human rights abuse for children. I am in awe of the survivors who bravely shared their stories and grateful to the other allies we worked alongside, as well as the legislators, bill sponsors and Governor, for achieving this victory for girls in Michigan.”

And child marriage survivors and advocates who fought with us were overjoyed at the news, too:

“Working on this bill made me face the painful truth of my past. It is a vital part of my healing to know this bill has passed. To know other young people will not have to face the devastating challenges I, and many others, have had.” – Arlene Nynof, child marriage survivor/advocate.

“Working on getting this bill passed along side my Mom and other survivors has given me another level of appreciation for what they have endured. It means so much to survivors to have their experiences recognized by ending this abuse. It means even more to the children, like mine, who will now be protected from it in Michigan.” – Nina Van Harn, forced marriage survivor/advocate.

“30 years after my own life as a high school girl was cut short I am proud to stand here today as Michigan becomes the 10th State to ban child marriage. The Great State of Michigan has taken a stand.  Our unified message is clear: the rights of children, and particularly girls, are not for sale and this outdated and misguided practice of child marriage will not be tolerated any longer in our state!” – Courtney Kosnik, child marriage survivor/advocate.

When asked what the passage of this bill meant to her, child marriage survivor/advocate Gina Browley put it simply and powerfully: “Protection! Protecting our youths!”

Once more, thank you to all our supporters who stood with us to end child marriage in Michigan. With your help, every single state will one day ban this abuse. Onwards!