By HTP Editorial

Unchained at Last will hold a Dinner on the River fundraiser on September 10, 2017.  Participants will embark on the Majestic Princess, located at 1500 Harbor Blvd., Weehawken, New Jersey, 07086.  The event runs from 6:00 PM till 9:30 PM, and includes a buffet dinner, an open bar, live disc jockey and dancing, as well as a silent auction and raffle. Cocktail attire is requested. Proceeds from the event will go toward the support of girls and women fleeing forced marriages.

Unchained at Last is a survivor-led nonprofit dedicated to offering victims of forced/arranged marriages legal, social and emotional support. The organization is also leading the charge to pass legislation that will ban forced marriages and child marriages in all 50 states.  It is estimated that nearly 250,000 children, some as young as 10, were coerced into marriage in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010, often with the collusion of their families or church officials and with the blessing of the judiciary.

Many Americans are unaware that children in the U.S. have very little protections against the practice of child marriage. While some states have age limits, there are ways to avoid them.  For example:

“The minimum age for marriage technically was 18 in New York, according to the previous law. But there were loopholes that allowed girls as young as 14 to wed. Forced or arranged marriages in the U.S. are often the result of religious beliefs, familial traditions or pregnancy. ” (Huffington Post)

The New York Times recently ran an article about a young girl forced to marry her rapist:

When she was a scrawny 11-year-old, Sherry Johnson found out one day that she was about to be married to a 20-year-old member of her church who had raped her.

“It was forced on me,” she recalls. She had become pregnant, she says, and child welfare authorities were investigating — so her family and church officials decided the simplest way to avoid a messy criminal case was to organize a wedding.

Many child brides are subjected to sexual and physical abuse by men who are often 20 or 30 years their senior, forced to bear children themselves when they are not physically or emotionally equipped to do so, and trapped in a life that is essentially one of slavery.  They cannot drive, they cannot vote, they do not know how to seek help or even that they can seek help.  And while the distinction between an age limit of, say,  17 or 18 may not seem very significant, it is:

 …”It could mean the difference between life and death for girls…Girls who marry before 18 are three times more likely to be beaten by a spouse than women who marry at 21 or older, according to the World Policy Analysis Center.” (Huffington Post)

There is, thankfully, a growing movement to push the legal age for marriage in the U.S. to 18, with NO exceptions, as many other nations have already done.

To purchase tickets to Unchained at Last‘s Dinner on the River fundraising event, click here

To learn more about Unchained at Last and to find out how you can get involved, click here

To read the New York Times article in full, click here

To read the Huffington Post article in full, click here