New York, NY, Dec. 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On International Human Rights Day, Unchained At Last and Equality Now are launching a National Coalition to End Child Marriage in the United States. The Coalition brings together for the first time organizations and individuals, including survivors of “child marriage”, working to reform federal law, policies and regulations to end “child marriage” throughout the country.

Approximately 248,000 children, some as young as 12, were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010.

Marriage before 18 is legal in 48 US states, and there is no minimum age for marriage in 18 states.

Married girls are twice as likely to live in poverty and three times more likely than married women to be physically abused by their spouse. Between 70 to 80 percent of “child marriages” end in divorce.

The mission of the Coalition is to end marriage below age 18, the age of majority, and repeal all loopholes and exemptions in federal law, policies and regulations that enable, and even encourage, “child marriage.”

The Coalition will pursue various approaches to:

  • Remove statutory rape exceptions, including by amending 18 U.S.C. Section 2243(c)(2) so that perpetrators of statutory rape of children between 12 and 15 - which is a federal crime - cannot escape punishment by marrying the child.
  • Ensure no other federal laws, policies or regulations permit, encourage or facilitate “child marriage.”
  • Set a federal standard, if not pass a law, which includes specific language defining marriage under 18 as a human-rights abuse.

All organizations, decision makers, activists, advocates, survivors and allies who are committed to ending “child marriage” in the U.S.A. and who are in agreement with the Coalition’s mission are invited to join the National Coalition by visiting www.endchildmarriageus.org

Co-convenors: Unchained at Last and Equality Now

Coalition members include:

1977
AHA Foundation
American Atheists
Angry Black Muslim Woman
Child Labor Coalition
Child Marriage Survivor and Public Advocate
Girls Inc.
Girls Learn International, Feminist Majority Foundation
Girls Rights Project
Global Citizen
Justice of the Peace Association
Naila Amin Foundation
National Consumers League
National Organization for Women
NYAToday
Promundo-US
Rights4Girls
Shadhika
The Hunger Project
The Institute for Full Potential Living
UNICEF USA

Equality Now uses the law to create a more just world for women and girls. They hold governments responsible for ending legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and “child marriage”.

Unchained At Last is the only organization in the U.S. dedicated to ending forced and “child marriage” across the country through direct services and advocacy. It provides crucial, often life-saving legal and social services to help individuals resist or escape forced marriages. They also lead on awareness raising to push for social, policy and legal change at the state and federal levels.

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Kate Kelly
National Coalition to End Child Marriage in the United States
212-586-0906 x 26
kkelly@equalitynow.org

Fraidy Reiss
Unchained At Last
908-481-4673
fraidy@unchainedatlast.org