Rhode Island governor signs bill banning child marriage
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor on Monday signed into law a bill meant to ban child marriage in the state.
Democratic Gov. Daniel McKee said the legislation eliminates language in state law allowing youths under the age of 18 to obtain a marriage license with parental consent. He said it’s an effort to “protect children and prevent exploitation.”
Rhode Island law previously allowed 16-year-olds to marry with the permission of their parents or guardians, The Providence Journal reports. Younger children could also marry if the family court was notified and conducted a court hearing.
Unchained At Last, a national advocacy group that pushed for the legislation, said four other states have passed similar laws banning all marriage before the age of 18: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Child marriages can also be used to cover up abuse or unwanted pregnancies or even for sex trafficking purposes, added state Rep. Julie Casimiro, a North Kingstown Democrat who sponsored the bill.
“Child marriages destroy girls’ health, education and economic opportunities and increases their risk of violence,” she said.