North Carolina is a destination for child marriage.The bill can end it


Raleigh, North Carolina (AP) — Known for its coastline, mountains, and state that was the “first flight,” North Carolina has recently built a more suspicious reputation as a regional destination for adults who want to marry their children.

State legislators are approaching the passage of a bill that could undermine the state’s proceedings as a reliable place to bring about child marriage, but still fall short of the national push to raise the age to 18. There will be no. From 14 to 16 years old, limit the age difference between 16 years old and his spouse to 4 years old.

Drew Reisinger, Buncombe County’s Certificate Register, said, “We’ve moved the needle to no longer place Noscaroliner at the bottom of the state’s barrel.” Many children are doing harm. “

According to Reisinger, the county, including the popular tourist city of Ashville, is a destination for many adult and child marriages from neighboring states such as Georgetown, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee. All of these have raised the minimum marriage age in recent years.

Two-thirds of last year’s marriage applications in Buncombe County were submitted by non-residents seeking to marry a minor, Reisinger said, with a 49-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl recently coming from Kentucky. He said he had asked for a license.

“North Carolina is one of the friendliest states in the South to give them a safe haven,” he said.

According to Unchained at Last, the state is currently one of 13 states where children under the age of 16 can marry, and nonprofits in the United States advocating ending children and forced marriage have a minimum age. Not done, the group says. About case law or the judgment of a judge.

Current North Carolina law allows children up to the age of 14 to become pregnant and marry if the judge permits. Otherwise, the child can marry up to the age of 16 with the permission of the parent. Alaska is the only other state whose law explicitly allows marriage up to the age of 14.

NS study According to the International Center for Women’s Research, a research institute and rights group for women and children, it is estimated that approximately 8,800 minors were listed on North Carolina marriage licenses between 2000 and 2015. Limit. The group said that 93% of marriage applications reviewed between 2000 and 2019 are related to marriages between minors and adults.

“It confuses the notion that if a child marriage happens, it’s a scenario of two 17-year-old Romeo and Juliet who can’t wait to love each other,” said Lyric, one of the co-authors of the study.・ Thompson said.

However, change is slow in North Carolina, and some lawmakers are convinced that certain marriages involving children will still be accepted.

“This is a generational gap,” said Senator Vickie Sawyer, a Republican in Davidson County. “It was the older members of both Democrats and Republicans who had the personal story of the married family, which was fine.”

Sawyer sponsored a bill to raise the age to 18. Instead, a compromise, unanimously endorsed by the Senate and the House of Representatives this week in May, raises the minimum marriage age to 16 without exception, including pregnancy. And even those 16 or 17 will require parental permission or a judge’s decision that marriage “helps the best interests of minors.”

“As a conservative Christian, I strongly support the secrets of marriage,” said Kristin Baker of Cabarrus County, who helped the bill shepherd in the House of Representatives.

“As a pediatric psychiatrist, I am determined to protect vulnerable young people and increase their chances of a healthy and happy future,” she said. “I believe this bill will work to achieve those goals.”

The maximum age difference of 4 years proposed in the bill partially mimics the statutory rape law, making it a serious felony for minors to have sexual intercourse with a significantly older person. The bill will probably need another Senate vote this week before heading to the desk of Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who is likely to sign the bill.

Unchained at Last and the International Center for Research on Women are, without exception, one of the groups working on the state to raise the marriage age to 18. Six states have reached that standard — most recently in Newyork last month.

These groups urged legislators to change the law with the help of former child marriages, including Judy Weegand of Kentucky, who appeared before the North Carolina House of Representatives in June.

“It is the government’s responsibility to protect all children,” Weegand told lawmakers. Weegand was 13 years old when she and her teenage older boy (baby’s father) married in the 1970s. She said the law left her little protected from abusive spouses until she became an adult.

Lobbyists working on a change in the law say the former North Carolina child marriages they contacted are too traumatic due to their experience and cannot speak publicly in front of legislators. Instead, a woman like Weegand filled it out. “I’m in favor of the bill because I feel no one has done it for me,” she said.

Another woman is Jean Fields, who married a man in his twenties at the age of 15 in 1965. Fields had three children by the age of 21. She eventually divorced after saying that her husband’s verbal abuse and contempt had continued for years.

Fields, now 72, goes by another married name, but doesn’t want to disclose it to avoid the pain of her extended family. She said in a telephone interview that she raised her child after quitting her marriage, returned to school, and has owned two businesses ever since. But despite her ultimate success, she discourages others from getting married at a young age.

“I regret not having the opportunity to be a teenager,” she said.