In 2017, when California state Sen. Jerry Hill heard about a local 12-year-old girl getting married to a 28-year-old man, he thought it was just a sick rumor.
“It’s one of those, ‘You’re kidding me, that’s not happening here,’” Hill told NBC News.
Then he learned the truth: It was happening, and it was legal.
Hill discovered that child marriages occur in California because, like in many states, there was no minimum age to wed, and in still other states, the laws set the age below age 18, even if one spouse is years or decades older. Often, sometimes all it takes for the child to marry is the permission of a parent or a judge.
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