12-Year-Old Girls Will No Longer Be Able To Get Married In Virginia

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It’s one of those stories that makes you wonder how you didn’t know Virginia had such a law in the first place.

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Between 2004 and 2013, around 4,500 children under the age of 18 got married in the state of Virginia. Of these girls, more than 200 of them were aged 15 or under.

Last week, the authorities in the state introduced new legislation that updated rules that had until then made it legal for girls aged 12 or 13 to get married if they had parental consent and were pregnant.

The changes – a move that campaigners said brought Virginia’s laws into the 21st Century – followed a long fight by activists who said the change was aimed at curbing forced marriage, human trafficking and statutory rape disguised as marriage.

 

Bills were passed by state politicians Jill Holtzman Vogel, a Republican, and Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat, the Washington Post reports.

Ms Vogel said that she first heard about the issue from constituents in an affluent part of her district in northern Virginia. They had told her that a man in his 50s was suspected of having sex with a high school student.

Ms Vogel said that when child protective services began to investigate, the man charmed the parents and married the teenager, thereby eliminating any hope of prosecution. It was the second time the man had done this.

Similar bills were passed in California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York earlier in the year.

 

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