One reader asks, " Alabama ranks number 4 in states with the most child marriages, often to adults. Why is it legal for children to marry? But during a late night filibuster, the bill failed to pass. Lawmakers did not want to raise the age, according to an Associated Press report from the time. And almost nobody at the time was able to tell me why it was okay for it to continue. All 50 states currently allow children under the age of 18 to marry. Some require parental consent, while half have no age limit.
Between and , over , children have been married across the country , according to data from 38 states and two counties collated by advocacy groups and later published by PBS's Frontline. Just over 8, of those child marriages took place in Alabama. The youngest was 13 and the biggest age divide between spouses was 60 years. A 14 year old girl married a 74 year old man, according to the Frontline data. Alabama ranks as the 4th highest in the country for total child marriages since Over that time, Texas has allowed more than 40, child marriages, highest in the country.
When viewing child marriages as a percentage of all marriages, Alabama drops to 10th. Idaho saw 84 child marriages per 10, marriages, the highest rate in the nation since However, since the law in Alabama changed in , through a bill sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, child marriage has dropped considerably. In , 1, children married in Alabama. That dropped to in , the last year that data was readily available. Current Alabama law requires permission from both parents, judicial approval, and does not allow a pregnancy exception, which is a law that means a girl younger than 16 years old can marry if she is pregnant.
She said that marrying off a child before age that age is dangerous and a practice that needs to end. If you leave home you're considered a runaway; if an advocate helps you they can be charged with kidnapping; if you make it to a shelter they may well try to reunite you with your parents. It's entirely too easy for a child to be forced into a marriage," she added. But getting to the bottom of the why child marriage is still allowed is not easy, as former Rep.
Throughout her nationwide research, Reiss observed that the overwhelming reason that legislators have kept the age down is it offers young pregnant women an alternative to abortion.
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