New Jersey Governor Kills Statewide Child Marriage Ban

Protesters dress in wedding garb and costume chains in a gathering organized by Unchained at Last at the New Jersey State House in Trenton on June 1, 2017. The aim was to highlight a veto by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of a bill that would have banned marriage for those under the age of 18.


Last month in the U.S., New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed bill A3091 which banned marriages for anyone under the age of 18 in the state with no exceptions. This hard-line bill would have been the first of its kind in the country.

Despite the bill’s bipartisan support, Christie opted to squander the remarkable opportunity to close child marriage legal loopholes by falling back on the ridiculous claim that to do so would impinge the religious freedom of New Jersey residents, according to an article in Politico. Christie appears to have been swayed by religious special-interest groups who raised concerns that more children would be born out of wedlock if marriage between 16 and 17-year-olds were banned.

Rightfully, the governor’s decision was met with extensive criticism from organizations like Too Young to Wed and the media, most notably from a column by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.

Some took it one step further. Our friends at the nonprofit Unchained at Last, which works to provide assistance to survivors of child marriage in the United States, organized a Chain-In, where protesters donned wedding dresses and bound their wrists with costume chains. They gathered in front of the New Jersey State House in Trenton on June 1 with speakers including Unchained At Last’s Executive Director, Fraidy Reiss, as well as advocates from Human Rights Watch and the National Organization for Women.

Unchained At Last has reported that forced marriage overwhelmingly takes place in closed religious groups where there are few resources (if any) for underage spouses to access. The cases also overwhelmingly involve a minor girl and a much older man.

“I have gotten too many phone calls from girls under 18 who are either facing pressure to get married or are trying to leave a marriage,” said Christina, the Director of Client Services at Unchained at Last and who wished to be identified only by her first name.

For girls wishing to leave a forced marriage, there are extremely limited resources in New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S. Domestic violence shelters are often unable to take girls under 18, and minors who leave home are seen as runaways and are swiftly returned to the very situations they are trying to escape. Legal advice, healthcare and education can also become difficult to access, just as the Too Young to Wed team has repeatedly witnessed in our projects around the globe.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole story is that it highlights the fact that there is no true child marriage ban in the United States. The U.S. Department of State has declared marriage under the age of 18 is a human rights abuse, but, shockingly, state laws across the country do not reflect this. Other bills seeking to ban forced and underage marriage have failed to pass in states like New Hampshire and New York*.

Gov. Christie leaves office in January 2018, but human rights abuses to which he turned a blind eye will continue until we move forward with meaningful change in place of legal loopholes and special interest kowtowing. 

*Last week, a bill passed in the New York State Assembly and will now go to the Governor’s desk. Previous attempts were introduced but not put to a vote.

The post New Jersey Governor Kills Statewide Child Marriage Ban appeared first on Too Young Too Wed.

from Blog – Too Young Too Wed tooyoungtowed.org/blog/new-jersey-governor-kills-statewide-child…

TYTW stands with over 100 NGOs in support of empowerment initiatives for women and girls

Greetings Friends and TYTW Supporters,

We at Too Young to Wed were saddened and dismayed to hear of the memo that was released by the current United States government that would remove funding for “Let Girls Learn,” an initiative targeting women’s empowerment and education around the world. The “Let Girls Learn” program was started in 2015 by former first lady Michelle Obama to provide vital opportunities to girls in developing nations.

As our own projects have taken us around the developing world, we are well aware of the many barriers that girls face in getting an education. It was clear that the “Let Girls Learn” initiative was both needed and highly effective. Helping empower the world’s women and girls with education helps close the gender gap on all fronts, which directly leads to an increase in economic opportunity and stability, personal and community health, national and global security, and many other issues of vital important to our interests here in America and beyond, no matter which party holds the reins.

Today, the White House quickly walked back its statement on the future of “Let Girls Learn,” but it remains unclear as to the initiative’s fate moving forward. Therefore, we were proud to co-sign a statement by the International Center for Research on Women and co-signed by 117 other organizations working to advance the empowerment of women and girls around the world. The final statement was delivered to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Acting USAID Administrator Wade Warren, and Special Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump.

You can see the complete statement and a total list of the 118 co-signing organizations over at the ICRW.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Stephanie Sinclair & the Too Young to Wed Team

from Blog – Too Young Too Wed tooyoungtowed.org/blog/tytw-stands-with-over-100-ngos-in-support…

This Friday, Stand with Bandcamp in Support of Immigrants/Basic Human Values (by buying my music)!

And so all day this Friday, February 3rd (starting at 12:01am Pacific Time), for any purchase you make on Bandcamp, we will be donating 100% of our share of the proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union, who are working tirelessly to combat these discriminatory and unconstitutional actions.

This means, when you buy my music at bandcamp on this Friday, 15% from what you pay will go to the American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union is a non-profit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Short: they were the ones that sued Donald Trump, and they deserve all our support. Plus, you get some great music.

Here’s something to get you started with, my latest album from 2014:

 

85% of what you pay for my music will go to me. Also not a bad thing, if you ask me. 😉 Thank you!

Source: This Friday, Stand with Bandcamp in Support of Immigrants/Basic Human Values « Bandcamp Daily