This non-profit is working to end child marriage in the US

Forced child marriage can see girls as young as ten get married. Unchained is trying to fight this.

Two hands holding, one with a wedding ring on a finger

Unchained, an organisation based in New Jersey, is dedicated to fighting forced and child marriage in the United States.

As it stands, marriage under the age of 18 is legal in 48 of 50 states, with Delaware and New Jersey being the first two states to completely outlaw the marriage of minors.

Over 200,000 minors were legally married between 2000 and 2015. The majority of children in these marriages were girls.

Throughout the country, the legal marriageable age varies. While the legal age of marriage is 18, a huge majority of states permit child marriage under a number of circumstances. These include the consent of the clerk or judge or the consent of guardians. Underage marriage is also permitted if one of the parties is pregnant, or has had a child, or if the minor is emancipated. In Alaska and North Carolina, minors as young as 14 can be legally wed to adults under these circumstances.

Additionally, the United States sees a large number of forced marriages, in which one or both parties enter into a marriage without giving full, free, informed consent.

On top of that, vulnerable women and girls face serious obstacles in terms of getting a divorce, leaving their spouse or entering a shelter to escape abuse.

In Tennessee in 2010, three ten year-old girls were married to men in their late twenties and early thirties. In the same year, a 14 year-old girl married a 74 year-old man in Alabama.

Unchained is working to put an end to this.

The non-profit works directly with women and girls who find themselves in forced marriages. Unchained is dedicated to helping women and girls avoid and leave these marriages. The organisation is also committed to raising awareness about forced marriage while advocating for appropriate legislation.

Unchained’s holistic approach provides at-risk people with an array of services including free legal representation, social services, mentoring and education. For more information, or to get involved, click here. 

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