Afghanistan is tougher on child marriage than Florida
ONE of the richest and most powerful countries in the world still has some disturbingly archaic laws.
It is hard to grasp how legal loopholes still exist in America that allow minors to marry.
But they do, and with life-long consequences for the child involved.
More than 200,000 children were married in the US over the last 15 years.
Three 10-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy were among the youngest to wed.
The true figure is likely to be much higher, as 10 states provided inadequate statistics to campaigning group Unchained At Last.
Even Afghanistan, a country with a widespread problems from child marriage, has tougher laws than the US: girls can marry at 15 or 16 with permission from their father or a judge.
In Florida, the state with the highest rate of child marriage, a pregnant girl can marry at any age with the approval of a judge.
This law is holding strong, despite its correlation with girls dropping out of school, sinking into poverty and a greater risk of domestic violence.
A 'child marriage' social experiment in Times Square sickened people:
The laws may be unpopular, but they are stubborn.
Virginia passed a bill to end child marriage last year, but an exception was added for emancipated minors as young as 16 - although the devastating effects are no less strong.
Elsewhere, New Hampshire rejected a bill to increase the age of marriage to 18 in March out of concern for pregnant teenagers and young soldiers who wanted to marry.
How can this keep happening? Well, 'religious customs' was a New Jersey governor's excuse when he refused to ban child marriage in May.