Last week, Virginia updated a law that allowed 12 and 13-year-old girls to marry if they had parental consent and were pregnant.
While child marriage is often viewed as an issue that doesn’t affect the United States, approximately 4,500 underage children were married in Virginia from 2004 to 2013.
Under the new state law, which was enacted last Friday, youth under the age of 18 will not be permitted to marry, but a 16 or 17-year-old can still marry if they have been emancipated by court order.
Activists hope that the new minimum age will stunt forced marriages, human trafficking, and statutory rape.
According to the World Policy Centre, 88 percent of countries have set the minimum marriage age limit to 18. In the U.S., at least six states still allow girls to marry with parental consent as young as 16.
A recent social experiment by Coby Persin demonstrates the outrage that the American public feels towards underage marriage.
Photo credit: YouTube screenshot, Coby Persin