I Don't, But My Parents Say, I Do

In America, you would not think a twelve year old would marry someone in their twenties. Let’s be honest you would not think of a twelve year old marrying at all. Statistics show this is the case in several States across America.

In an article from Good by Kate Ryan, shows us a statistic we don’t hear too often of. In the last decade, thousands of children have been married underage in the United States. In Virginia alone 4,474 children age 13 and up were married between 2004 and 2013. In New York 3,853 married underage between 2000 and 2010, to people at least a decade older than them. The underage bride is growing not shrinking. 

Recently, the shocking story of Sherry Johnson was told by New York Times Nicholas Kristoff. Sherry was an eleven year old girl. She was active in church and school. Unfortunately, one day she was raped by a man who was twenty at the time. Her mother was alarmed when she became pregnant from her rapists. Child welfare authorities were investigating and looking into Sherry`s pregnancy. Sherry`s mother and the church decided a cleaner way to sweep this under the rug was to have Sherry marry her rapists. They went to a local County Clerk who denied the marriage license due to Sherry`s age. Sherry`s mother went to a neighboring county and found a clerk to issue the wedding license. Sherry ended up marrying her rapists at no choice of her own, but at her mother’s demand. She missed a lot of elementary school due to her marriage. Sherry said, "We didn't really talk that much, I was there for sex only. We didn't have conversations.” She filed for divorce in 1978 at the age of 18. 

The idea of a girl in America legally married, expecting and in elementary school is an outcry for help. Sherry was a mother and wife before she even was in high school. She is now standing up against people like her mother. She is campaigning that the laws for underage marriage be changed. Recent studies reported by Kristof show that more than 167,000 young people age 17 and under married in 38 states between 2000 and 2010. That is an alarming amount of children being married under 18. The idea of children being married at 18 is questionable. Studies show a person does not fully form mentally as an adult until they are 25. 

Also, should there be an age limit even with parental approval? The end of this story is that no one was there to advocate for Sherry, but the story of hope is that Sherry is fighting so this does not happen again. 

Articles Referenced in Above: https://www.good.is/articles/child-marriage-americ...



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