Lawmakers want to change outdated laws and end child marriage


Several South Carolina lawmakers are trying to update the state’s marriage laws; specifically the part pertaining to age requirements.

More than 5000 girls under the age of 18 have been married in South Carolina over the past 20 years. It’s a union advocates say are linked to detrimental consequences. 

Ann Warner, the CEO of WREN, testified at a senate committee hearing. 

“Girls who marry when they’re children are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, more likely to get divorced early, suffer mental and physical health consequences in their lives and they’re more likely to live in poverty.”

Now lawmakers are looking to rework current laws on the books.

Currently in the state the legal age to get married without parental consent is 18 years old, but ambiguity in the law allows girls younger than 16 to get married.

Senator Katrina Shealy from Lexington County filed the bill. She explained why the loopholes present need to be closed. 

“So if you are 13 years old and you get pregnant and your mother or father signs for you. You can get married. Well to me if you’re 13 years old somewhere along the line there’s some statutory rape there.”

The bill filed by Shealy would get rid of those pregnancy exceptions and keep the minimum age at 16 with parental consent. 

Senator shealy is also drafting a separate bill that would raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 without any exceptions.

Child marriage is a lot more common than one would think. Only 2 states have completely outlawed child marriage by raising the age to 18 without any exceptions..

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