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Florida Moves A Step Closer To Banning Child Marriage

gold wedding bands
Abhlshek Jacob

Florida Senators have approved a measure closing a loophole that allows child marriage. The bill is being called historic. If the proposal passes the full legislature, the group, Human Rights Watch, says it will be the first of its kind in the country.

Right now in Florida a child can marry with permission from their parents—or a judge if the girl is pregnant. The measure approved by the state Senate would bar anyone under the age of 18 from receiving a marriage license. Republican Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto is pushing the bill an effort to protect people like Sherrie Johnson who was forced to marry at the age of 11.

“Ms. Johnson was raped at a very young age by her deacon at church and when it was found out that she was pregnant her parents did the unthinkable. They forced her to marry the man who impregnated her as a child,” Johnson said.

Johnson is now an advocate against child marriage. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear the measure Thursday morning.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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