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ANCHORAGE-Today, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) announced she has prefiled legislation to raise the minimum age to marry in Alaska to 18 or emancipated minors above the age of 16. A child in Alaska currently can marry at 14 years old with the approval of a Judge.
“It astonishes me that our state will allow a child this young to marry,” said Sen. Gardner. “Early marriage forces a girl into adulthood and motherhood before she is physically and mentally mature.”
Between 2006 and 2015, there were four cases of child marriage where the child was under the age of 15 years old, according to Vital Records. Three of these cases had the child marrying someone in their late 20s. During the same period, Alaska also had 12 cases of divorces involving children less than 15 years of age, with 75% of these involving spouses older than 30. The oldest involved a spouse older than 55.
“Even though Alaska does not have a high rate of child marriage, we need to start doing the right thing,” said Sen. Gardner. “These young children need to live out their childhood and focus on their education.”
In the US, child marriage leads to many adverse effects. These include a divorce rate exceeding 70%, reduced education and employment opportunities, as well as mental and physical health problems. Texas, Virginia and New York have recently passed laws to increase the minimum age of marriage.