By Katerina Papadea,
Marriage between adults and people under the age of 18 is not uncommon in underdeveloped African countries and in countries with hardline Islamic regimes, where there is a gross violation of human rights. Surprisingly, however, this phenomenon has spread to the U.S. superpower, the homeland of democratic values and individual freedoms, and to North Carolina, which is now the destination state for nearby states, in terms of marriage between adults and minors. North Carolina is one of 13 states of the U.S. that allows minors to marry, and 9 of these states do not set a minimum age, which makes the phenomenon even worse.
It seems that the U.S. superpower is coming to change the democratic and “progressive” reality, as the increase of the age limit to 16 years was considered as very positive news, after the signing of the law by the Democratic governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper. This was a positive development, as the pre-existing law stated that children under the age of 14 could get married in the event of ongoing pregnancy if the judge allowed it. Under other circumstances, people aged 16 and over can get married, provided parental permission. Under the current situation, there were huge percentages of marriage applications involving marriages between minors and adults, placing North Carolina among the top 5 states where minor marriages have taken place. Under the new law, minors over the age of 16, if they obtain parental permission or a judge’s approval to marry, can enter a marriage with a person up to 4 years older.
According to the Democratic governor, the new law is the foundation for ending child marriage in North Carolina and providing greater protection for children, while the state would potentially become a safer place for minors. As the majority of legislators, specialists and organizations disagree with this situation, there are many legislators who consider child marriage acceptable, based on fact that some of these marriages do not necessarily take place and don’t necessarily ruin children’s lives, ignoring cases of child rape, with perpetrators marrying victims to legitimize their actions and avoid jail. Proponents of the case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. In the context of his controversy, unanimous support, from the Senate in May 2021 and Congress in August 2021, sets the minimum age for marriage at 16, with no exceptions, and will require parental permission or a judge’s decision that the marriage is for the better of the minor.
It is worth mentioning that this law applies to both boys and girls, although it is well known that the “scales” of underage marriages lean towards female underage victims, with the effects of gender-based violence rampant. It is also outrageous that victims of forced marriages, mainly women, are not entitled to file for divorce or domestic violence if they have not reached the age of 18. It seems then, that marriages between adults and minors rarely end well for the woman.
Summing up, as can be seen in North Carolina, but also in other U.S. states, where child marriages are allowed, the opposition and reaction to this phenomenon is not clear, as the fear of political cost prevails. The most basic argument, however, that should contribute to the abolition of the possibility of adult marriage with minors, is that the latter are deprived of their childhood and adolescence, experiencing all kinds of abuse and at the same time are not protected by law. To this end, i.e. the termination of forced child marriages, many NGOs have mobilized, as it seems that the problem is bigger and that North Carolina is not the exception, but the rule.
- Η.Π.Α. – Ένα σύγχρονο νυφοπάζαρο ανηλίκων, in, Available here
- Governor signs into law tighter restrictions on child marriage in North Carolina, newsobserver, Available here