US Republicans reject bill to end child marriage
05.06.19 / The Republican-led House of Representatives have voted down a bill in Idaho that would have set the legal minimum age of marriage at 16.
Idaho has the highest rate of child marriages in the US according to analysis by the advocacy group Unchained At Last, with more than 4,000 children married between 2000 and 2010. The youngest married minor is reported to be 13.
The state has no minimum legal age for marriage, but children under 16 need parental and judicial consent. The Democratic state Representative Melissa Wintrow had proposed the bill that would prevent children under 16 from getting married. “Instead of ending child marriage outright, this is a modest approach to bring it in conformity with our statutory rape laws” she told local paper Idaho Statesman.
But the House voted 39-28 against the bill, led by the Republican party. Their reasons included that courts should not get involved in people’s decision to get married, and that the bill would make it easier to have an abortion at 15 than to start a family.
After the vote Wintrow voiced her disappointment on Facebook. “Today was a sad day in the Idaho House” she wrote. “What I thought was a modest compromise to try to prevent coercion and potential abuse of children, by raising the floor on the marriage age to 16 – let me repeat, 16 – turned out to be too progressive for too many of my republican colleagues.”
“Arguments against: parental rights and a disagreement with aligning marriage laws with the statutory rape laws. I’m at a loss… “
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For Ahoo Khanom, being forced to marry a much older man at the age of 14 marked the start of a cycle of abuse that at times made her want to end her life. Read her story here