It might surprise many of us to learn that child marriage is still relatively common in the USA.
In fact, between 2000 and 2015, over 200,000 minors were legally married in the United States. That’s roughly six children in every thousand.
Marriage age in the United States is set by each state, territory and federal district.
Shockingly, according to a 2019 report published by the Tahirih Justice Center, there are 13 states in which there is no minimum age for marriage.
Here’s a map, to visually put that into perspective.
Among the states that have no lower age limit for marriage are California, Maine, Washington, Idaho, Long Island, West Virginia and New Mexico. Other states allow children to get married at age 14 or 16 with parental consent, but these 13 have no lower age limit at all.
Child marriage is increasingly being viewed as a form of child sexual abuse and some international agencies have declared it a human rights violation. Along with the threat of sexual abuse, children may be subject to decreased education, early pregnancies, and psychological trauma.
According to information compiled by the Pew Research Center, child marriage is generally more common in some of the Southern United States. In Texas, for example, almost 40,000 children were married from 2011-2014.
The highest incidences of child marriages are in West Virginia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, Tennessee, and North Carolina, even though some of these states do have lower limits.