DID YOU KNOW THAT UNTIL RECENTLY, NEW YORK STATE LAW PERMITTED CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 14 YEARS OLD TO MARRY?
We are happy to report that is no longer the case: New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting marriage for children under the age of 16 in New York state; and establishing new safeguards to protect children at age 17 from forced and coercive marriages, including required judicial review of marriage licenses for 17-year-olds.
Child marriage is a harmful practice that violates of children’s rights. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life for many children around the world, even right here in the United States. Child marriage often leads to separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education and economic participation. Because early marriage is usually tied to early pregnancy, girls married at a young age also face serious health risks – a girl under age 16 is five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a woman between the ages of 20 to 24.
The legislation is a start: UNICEF believes that child marriage under age 18 should be banned in all circumstances. However, the legislation that was passed is a huge improvement from allowing marriage at age 14, and a big step forward toward on the march to finally end child marriage in New York and everywhere.
We hope you’ll join us in congratulating the Governor and state legislators for taking action to prevent child marriage, and we hope you will continue to advocate for children in the US and across the globe to ensure they have the protections they deserve.
Published on UNICEF USA on June 22, 2017.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.