A majority of US states issue marriage licenses to teens as young as 16 or 17, and a handful allow children as young as 14 to marry.
13 states have no age limit.
Just 2 states ban the practice of child marriage outright.
Story by @DartDClark: https://nbcnews.to/2H3yQoh (1/8)
Legal loopholes have allowed the marriages to continue, lawmakers and activists say.
Experts say such marriages typically ensnare young girls under pressure from parents or predatory adults. Studies show marrying young places social, educational & economic strains on youth (2/8)
“You have to be 21 to drink. You have to be 16 to operate a car. Why on earth are the ages lower to enter into a lifelong commitment such as marriage? It does not make any sense,” says Genevieve Meyer, who was forced into marriage at 15 years old. http://nbcnews.to/2H3yQoh (3/8)
A marriage certificate issued in May 1995 in Mississippi and officiated by a local judge shows 15-year-old Genevieve Meyer married John Malloy, a then-43-year-old twice-divorced father of two.
Meyer was forced into the marriage by her mother. https://nbcnews.to/2H3yQoh (4/8)
Mississippi law, still in effect, allows girls as young as 15 to obtain a marriage license with parental consent.
The judge who performed the ceremony, now retired, says he remembers calling Meyer’s mother to confirm that the marriage was in her daughter’s best interest. (5/8)
Meyer’s first years as a bride were filled with eviction notices, scant money for food and Malloy’s steady drinking, she says.
Legally, she couldn’t file for divorce until she turned 18. https://nbcnews.to/2H3yQoh (6/8)
Malloy filed for divorce in March 2002. It was finalized later that year.
Meyer married her husband, Nick, in 2007 and later started The Resiliency Foundation, speaking publicly about her experience as a child bride and offering services to orgs on issues of sexual abuse. (7/8)
“I realize now that we have parents that can choose how they want to raise their children, but there needs to be laws in place when parents are using laws to abuse their children. And that's what child marriage is — it's just organized child abuse.” (8/8)
You can follow @NBCNews.