While American feminists travel around the globe promoting women’s empowerment, they have lost sight of problems in their own country. The United States of America, the richest country in the world still has one of the most backward laws when it comes to child marriage. Statistics released by the Pew Research Center show that nearly 5 in every 1,000 15-17 year olds in the United States are married. Feminists in America have set their sights on Africa and want to tell us how to live our lives and yet their country is besieged with this problem of child marriages. Children living in the United States can get married with parental consent or with a judge’s approval. As a result, more than 200,000 children were married in the United States between the years 2000-2015. These numbers are estimated to be very conservative and that the number is much higher.
American laws allow children to marry if they receive parental consent or judicial consent. While many receive parental consent, a significant number go through the courts. Judicial exception is for children marrying with judicial approval. This exception lowers the marriage age below 16 in many states, and many states do not specify a minimum age. Judges in those states can allow the marriage even of an elementary school student.
Emerging economies such as Malawi have stricter child marriage laws than the United States. In Zimbabwe for example, Child marriages have been banned but they remain legal in the United States of America even in 2017. Poor American children do not have protection under the law.
- 50% of US states do not have a minimum marriage age.
- 87% of the child marriages involved girls and the remaining 13% involved boys. These girls in child marriages in the United States married adult men.
- The American state of Florida had 16,000 child marriages between 2011 and 2015.
- Children who marry under 16 are 31% more likely to end up in poverty according to Human Rights Watch.
The problem of child marriages needs to be addressed because these relationships often result in abuse, violence, poverty, health issues, illiteracy and in extreme cases death. The United Nations (UN) has set a goal to eliminate child marriage by 2030, and human rights groups are working towards this goal. It turns out that while American feminists are trying to save the world they have lost sight that charity begins at home. Right in their own backyard is the problem that needs to be addressed with the same vigor as in another country.
Statistics from BBC, Human Rights Watch and Pew Research Center