Ready for this insane statistic? According to Pew Research Center, child marriage is allowed in 36 states, where there is no restriction on how young a child can marry with the permission of a judge. However, thanks to a new bill in the state of New York, that law will change.
On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a bill that will up the age of consent from 14 to 18. The Governor originally revealed his plan in February, but prior to this recent legislation, the legal age of marital consent was 18. However, with parental approval, 16- and 17-year-old children could marry; with judge and parental approval, children as young as 14 and 15 could legally get married.
"This law will go a long way in honoring our values and commitment to protecting children, especially young girls, from the coercive, oppressive, and destructive practice of ill-informed or forced marriage,” said New York state Senator Andrew J. Lanza in a press release.
Between 2000 and 2010, over 3,800 minors in New York were legally allowed to marry. Studies show that teenage marriage will likely result in unhealthy relationships and negative consequences such as higher divorce, unemployment, and crime rates. Additionally, young women who marry before age 21 are three times more likely to be beaten by their spouse.
Cuomo was a leading legislator in the 2011 decision to legalize gay marriage in the state of New York and has worked on other pieces of human rights legislation, including women's rights, strengthening human trafficking laws, and increasing protection for domestic violence victims.
Said Cuomo: "This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all.”