Legislation to abolish marriage between an adult and a child moves one step closer to becoming law

03/14/2018 08:48 PM

FRANKFORT – Legislation to prohibit marriage between an adult and a child under the age of 18 came closer to becoming law on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 48, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, would establish the legal age of 18 for marriage in Kentucky, was passed unanimously by the House Standing Committee on Judiciary.

A committee substitute of the bill establishes that individuals who are 17 years of age could get married, but only with their parents permission and judicial approval, provided the person the child is going to marry is not more than 4 years older.

Donna Pollard, who founded Survivors’ Corner, a non-profit organization focused on providing survivors of sexual exploitation with support, and was a victim of being in a marriage as a child with an adult who was 15 years older than her, told committee members about a study done in cooperation with the University of Louisville looking at marriage statistics involving children in the state of Kentucky, and the troublesome results learned from the research.

“Between the years 2000 and 2015, there were 11,000 cases of underage marriage occurred in our state,” Pollard said. “Through our analytics, we found that only 7 percent of that 11,000 were between a minor and a minor. An overwhelming 93 percent of these marriages were between a minor and an adult, including a 13-year-old girl who was wed to a 33-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl wed to a 52-year-old man.”

Dr. Judy Wiegand of Louisville told the committee her personal story of being a victim of child marriage.

The bill was moved to the consent calendar which should clear the way for it to go to the governor’s office where it will likely be signed into law.

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