A Message From Unchained at Last:

Finally, our hard work has paid off: Delaware yesterday became the first state to end all child marriage, without exceptions.

This, after we at Unchained spent the last three years writing op-ed articles, chaining-in in bridal gowns, traveling around the country to testify at legislative hearings, arguing with naysayers, yelling on TV and radio and in print, recruiting allies, building a team — and seeing legislators in state after state reject or water down legislation to end child marriage.

More good news: This morning the bill we helped to write to end all child marriage in New Jersey, without exceptions, was released from the assembly judiciary committee and heads to the full assembly. New Jersey might soon become the second U.S. state to end child marriage.

Delaware Ends Child Marriage

Previously, Delaware law set the marriage age at 18 but included a dangerous loophole: Children of any age could marry if a parent petitioned the court and the court approved it.

This loophole effectively disempowered children, leaving them easily susceptible to forced marriage at the hands of their parents. Keep in mind: When a child is forced to marry, the perpetrators are almost always the parents. And a child who is forced to marry also is forced to lie to the court about it, so the judicial approval requirement did not protect children.

We are in awe of Rep. Kim Williams, a fierce advocate for women and girls, who led the charge to end child marriage in Delaware. And we are proud that we got to join her in leading that charge, talking to nearly every legislator, testifying at legislative hearings and partnering with a coalition of Delaware women’s groups, including:

  • Office of Women’s Advancement and Advocacy
  • Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Delaware League of Women Voters
  • End Trafficking Delaware

Our Movement to End Child Marriage in America

We at Unchained At Last started and now lead a growing, historical movement to end child marriage in America.

Currently, marriage before 18 is legal in 49 U.S. states; in fact, laws in 21 states do not specify any minimum marriage age.

Child marriage often is forced marriage, because children face overwhelming legal and practical barriers if they try to leave home, enter a domestic violence shelter, retain an attorney or bring a legal action such as divorce before they turn 18.

Further, child marriage destroys girls’ health, education and economic opportunities and significantly increases their risk of being beaten by their spouse. In fact, the U.S. State Department has called marriage before 18 a “human rights abuse.”

Please join the movement to end child marriage in America. Here’s how.

Upcoming Chain-Ins and Events

Be part of an upcoming Chain-In, at which we gather in bridal gowns and veils, with our wrists chained and mouths taped, to show legislators what life looks like for a girl or woman who is forced to marry. We provide the bridal gowns and chains.

And be part of our upcoming night of hilarity featuring Trevor Noah.

Click here to watch Chained at Last‘s flash mob!

To learn more about Unchained at Last and child marriage in America, click here

“Unchained is the only nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls in the US to escape or resist arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives.

Unchained also is the only nonprofit dedicated to promoting social, policy and legal change to end forced and child marriage in America.”