Pennsylvania has officially become the third U.S. state after Delaware and New Jersey to entirely ban child marriage, with Governor Tom Wolf signing the new law that sets 18 as the minimum legal age to get married.
Before the ban, anyone under 16 could get a marriage license with court approval, and those between 16 and 18 only required parental consent. According to anti forced and child marriage organization Unchained, 2,300 children between 15 and 17 had gotten married through these exceptions since 2014.
“Setting the minimum age to obtain a marriage license will help prevent child exploitation,” says Governor Wolf. “Marriage is a sacred and serious commitment that should be undertaken with love by two adults, not by children being exploited by unscrupulous adults.”
“It’s three states down, only 47 to go in the push to end child marriage in the United States,” adds Unchained founder Fraidy Reiss. “The fact that Pennsylvania was able to do this despite the fact that there’s a global pandemic going on is just tremendous.”