Three women who survived child marriages and forced marriages speak out about their experiences. Sara was forced into a marriage at 15, Naila was forced into marriage at 13, and Fraidy was forced into marriage at 19.
Marriage under 18 is legal in all 50 US states. In 25 states, there is no legal minimum age where children can get married. Forced marriages can happen at any age. Manipulation, communal pressure, coercion, blackmail, threats and physical abuse are all ways in which someone might be forced into a marriage.
Nearly 250,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 entered into a marriage between 2000 and 2015, according to data collected by Unchained At Last. Recently, the Florida Legislature passed a bill prohibiting marriage for anyone under 17. A woman who was 11 when she was forced to marry her rapist worked for six years to help ban child marriages in Florida.
Fraidy Reiss is the founder and executive director of Unchained At Last, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid forced marriages and rebuild their lives. Unchained is dedicated to creating social, policy and legal change to end forced and child marriage in America.