It’s the ultimate pedophilia loophole: have a sexual craving for kids? Well, there’s a disturbing legal workaround in America that is often even approved by courtroom judges.
Despite how sacred marriage should be, this institution is being used by thousands to secure lifetime relationships with minors—children sometimes as young as 10 years old.
Just over the last 15 years, the U.S. has allowed over 200,000 kids to marry adults, even though 18 years is the legal age of adulthood.
Shockingly, skewed statistics could make the actual figures even higher.
According to The Independent:
“At least 207,468 minors married in the US between 2000 and 2015, according to data compiled by Unchained At Last, a group campaigning to abolish child marriage, and investigative documentary series Frontline.”
Through legal exceptions to the 18-year age of consent—such as unexpected pregnancy or parental approval—countless children are forced into marriages with adults, some of which are literally decades older.
The matter recently garnered significant public backlash after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to make such marital arrangements illegal.
“I agree that protecting the wellbeing, dignity, and freedom of minors is vital,” Christie attempted to justify, “but the severe bar this bill creates is not necessary to address the concerns voiced by the bill’s proponents and does not comport with the sensibilities and, in some cases, the religious customs, of the people of this State.”
In other words, people’s religious freedom to marry children trumps the well-being of American kids.
Despite Christie’s willingness to write off the issue, Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained At Last, said the statistics are nothing to take lightly.
“I got that spreadsheet from the state health department, I was literally shaking,” said Reiss.
According to the health department figures she saw, nearly 3,500 minors, mostly 16 and 17 year-olds, were married from 1995 to 2012.
“That number was so much higher than I had thought it would be,” she added, “Then, the fact that the children were as young as 13 and the fact that it was mostly girls married to adult men.”
According to Frontline:
“The youngest children to marry were three 10-year-old girls in Tennessee in 2001, who were married to men ages 24, 25 and 31, according to state data. The youngest groom was an 11-year-old boy, also in Tennessee, who married a 27-year-old woman in 2006.
“Children as young as 12 were granted marriage licenses in Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
“Thirteen-year-olds were given the green light to marry in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
“…Most states set the age of sexual consent between 16 and 18. A person can be charged with sexual abuse or statutory rape for having sex with a minor. Yet, we found numerous examples of children who were given marriage licenses before they could legally consent to sex. These marriages were almost always approved by court clerks and judges.”
In once instance, a 74-year-old man from Alabama married a 14-year-old.
By masking their predatory intentions as a sacred vow of marriage, pedophiles may have found legally sanctioned way to prey on underage victims.