Although the problem of child marriages is an issue that has not been highly publicized, more and more people have become aware of the issue in recent years, especially as states like Virginia and New Jersey have explored the possibility of repealing the laws enabling these sorts of marital unions.
Not surprisingly, attempts to repeal laws allowing for child marriages have not gotten a whole lot of pushback from lobbying groups or other observers. Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained at Last, a nonprofit group that seeks to repeal arranged or forced marriages in the U.S., put it bluntly: “I don’t think anybody wants forced marriage to continue.” However, the legislative process does take time, so things have moved slowly even in those states where prohibiting child marriages is on the legislative docket.
Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel, the sponsor of a recent bill to prohibit child marriages in Virginia, declared that child marriages need to be outlawed because the children are often being taken advantage of by someone who is much older than they are. More often than not, said Vogel, “it is a child marrying somebody decades older than they are.”
Starting a Trend of Laws to Ban Child Marriages
Nonprofit advocacy groups like Tahirih hope that new laws in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere will quickly spread across the United States and maybe even force action at the federal level. According to research conducted by these groups, child victims in these marriages are often subjected to all manner of violence and abuse, resulting in long-term physical and psychological damage.
What is perhaps most remarkable, and most upsetting, about these marriages is that but for the approval of a judge, the age differences in these cases would have resulted in statutory rape charges.
For more information, read the BusinessInsider.com article, “Several States Are Trying to Outlaw a Taboo Marriage Practice.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with statutory rape, criminal sexual contact or any other crime in New Jersey, you need to talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Lombardi and Lombardi, P.A. can help you fight the charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.