ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed legislation putting an end to child marriage in New York.
The legislation raises the age of consent from 14 to 18, and amends the process to require parental and judicial consent for marriage between 17- and 18-year-olds.
“This administration has worked tirelessly to defend exploited and disadvantaged New Yorkers, provide minors with the rights and protections that they deserve, and ensure that women are empowered to have control over their own lives, and with this legislation, we continue to help protect those who cannot protect themselves,” Cuomo said in a news release. “This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all.”
According to data from the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that protects immigrant women and girls, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina and Alaska also allow 14-year-olds to marry with parental and judicial consent.
Twenty-seven states have no minimum age in state statutes, meaning children of any age could technically marry with court approval.
State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), who sponsored the legislation said children have no escape from forced marriages because minors have limited access to legal services and domestic violence shelters.
The previous law, which dates back to 1929, does not provide any guidance to judges on whether to grant consent, Cuomo’s office said.
Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of Unchained at Last, a nonprofit to end forced marriage, said in February that religion, economic status and tradition motivate thousands of forced child marriages a year.
Health department data shows that between 2000 and 2010, 3,853 minors were married in New York. Eighty-four percent were minor girls married to adult men.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)