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Between 2000 and 2010, an estimated 248,000 children were married in the United States, with the majority of cases involving a younger girl marrying an older man. This is according to Unchained at Last, an organization that helps victims of forced and arranged marriages.
Such marriages are associated with a variety of negative outcomes, but thus far no state in the US has banned the practice outright. Last year, Democratic State Senator Jerry Hill attempted to make California the first to do so, but ran into opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. He plans to re-introduce another version of the bill soon, however it will still allow for minors to marry.
Florida is now poised to become the first state to pass a full ban. Last week, a “no exceptions” bill authored by Republican State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto was passed unanimously by her colleagues in the Senate. The bill is currently before the Florida house, where a floor vote is expected next week. However it has been met with some opposition and passage is no way guaranteed.
VICE News met with state lawmakers and child marriage survivors about attempts to change existing laws.
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