Assemblymember Steck Passes Legislation to End Harmful Child Marriages

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that legislation he co-sponsored to outlaw child marriages in New York State by raising the minimum age for marriage to 18 – or 17 with judicial consent has passed the Assembly (A.5524-B).

“To think that a 14-year-old can be married off by their family is deeply disturbing and completely unconscionable,” said Assemblymember Steck. “We have laws preventing minors from drinking and smoking yet we didn’t have a law saying that the same child can’t be married. It’s incredibly dangerous for our children and we cannot stand for this anymore.”

The legislation passed by Assemblymember Steck will ensure that no 14-, 15- or 16-year-olds can be married under any circumstance, and sets strict guidelines and requires judicial approval for 17-year-olds.

While many think that child marriage is a rare occurrence, statistics show that between 2000 and 2010, 3,900 child marriages were performed just in New York State, with 40 of those involving 14- and 15-year-old girls, while many young women were engaged in arranged marriages to adult men.

Studies have also shown that girls who marry before turning 18 are as much as three times more likely to be victims of domestic violence. Additionally, their opportunities to pursue an education are drastically limited.

“Everyone recognizes that child marriage is wrong and goes against everything we believe in as a society. These old practices must be put in the past,” added Steck. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in saying that enough is enough, and that our children should not be subject to these oppressive acts.”