Bill to ban child marriages gaining traction on Beacon Hill

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – A bill that would ban child marriages is gaining new traction on Beacon Hill.

Earlier this week members of the Judiciary Committee took public testimony on the child marriage ban, and even though they haven’t reached a decision yet, more and more lawmakers seem to be getting behind the proposal.

Government data shows that between, 2000 and 2016, more than 1,200 children under the age of 18 were married in Massachusetts.

The current state law sets the minimum marriage age at 18 but allows children of any age to get married with permission from a judge and the child’s parents.

Advocates who testified in front of Committee members shared the stories of children who have reached out to them for help because often times they were being mentally and physically abused by someone they know and trust.

“The statistics are that 90% of victims know their perpetrator, so there’s this issue of trust that is broken and it’s very difficult to come forward,” Kathryn Robb, from the Child US Advocacy said.

Advocates from the organization “Unchained, at Last,” helped pass the bill in the Senate, but since it hasn’t gone up for a vote in the House, the practice is technically still legal.

New Jersey and Delaware have already banned marriage before the age of 18, right now several other states including Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are close to doing the same.

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