This worthy fight continues

This worthy fight continues

This worthy fight continues

Though it should be, ending child marriage in American states is not an easy task.

For years, Unchained at Last has been fighting to make sure the youngest age for marriage in every state is 18. Fraidy Reiss, who founded the organization, says too many young girls have been forced into marriages with men. Based on a study from 2021, nearly 300,000 minors under the age 18 were legally married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018. A few of those were as young as 10.

Regardless of spousal age difference, she says child marriage is dangerous, and she believes outlawing it ought to be a bipartisan effort.

Reiss, Fraidy (Unchained at Last) Reiss

"There are very few issues in today's day and age that everyone, no matter their side of the aisle, can agree on, but one of them is that child marriage needs to end," Reiss submits. "This is an archaic, dangerous, harmful practice that brings no benefit, and it destroys the lives of those it impacts, mostly girls wed to adult men."

Thanks to Unchained's advocacy, Delaware and New Jersey became the first two states to end this human rights abuse in 2018. American Samoa followed suit that same year, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota did likewise in 2020, Rhode Island and New York ended child marriage in 2021, and Massachusetts followed in 2022. Vermont, Connecticut, and Michigan passed legislation in 2023, and Washington has done so this year.

Reiss says those victories were not easy, and unfortunately, child marriage remains legal in 39 states and continues to happen in the nation at an alarming rate.

"This is such obvious commonsense legislation," she insists. "What we're asking legislators to do – to make the age 18, no exceptions – it's legislation that costs nothing, it harms no one, and it ends a human rights abuse."

Her organization is not going to give up on the remaining states because Reiss says the issue is too important. Young lives are at risk.