For the second time, a bill that would ban underaged marriage is making its way through the legislature, and the bill’s sponsors are using real-life examples to show that the problem still exists.
Members of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities heard compelling testimony from a woman who was allowed to marry a grown man at the age of 15.
That woman is now speaking out, and she says the state of Massachusetts failed to protect her.
“In one day he could walk out of that courthouse with custody of me and permission to marry me. I was in the custody of the state in a foster home, the state was supposed to protect me and they failed,” Tammy told 22News.
Tammy was forced to marry a 27-year-old man who she said belonged to an extremist group in Brockton.
After nearly 10 years of mental, physical and emotional abuse, Tammy was able to seek help through the Domestic Violence Woman’s Shelter.
Tammy shared her full story with members of the committee to urge them to raise the age that young people can get married from 16 to 18 regardless of parental consent.
Some lawmakers got emotional after hearing Tammy’s testimony.
Many questioned the state’s role in underage marriages and wanted to know why the practice was still going on. With more than 80 co-sponsors, lawmakers are hoping to get the bill approved this session.