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You can no longer marry 13-year-olds in Virginia

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You can no longer marry 13-year-olds in Virginia, the Washington Post reports. According to a new law that went into effect Friday, July 1, you must be at least 18, or 16 if the person in question has been emancipated by court order. The bill is intended to reduce sex trafficking, forced marriage, and statutory rape.

The previous laws allowed for marriage of 13-year-olds and younger if the child in question was knocked up and had parental consent. Obviously, since it’s women that get pregnant, the only 13-year-olds getting married were female; 90 percent of the underage minors getting married were girls. These weren’t kids marrying their high school crushes, either, who accidentally got them pregnant after they went too heavy on the Boone’s Farm and made regrettable early high school choices in the backseat of their family trucks. Often the girls married men age 21 or older, or decades older, writes the Washington Post.

The data comes from Tahirih Justice Center, an NGO based in Virginia. Also among their findings were that in Virginia from 2004-2013, 4,500 children were married, over 200 of those were under 15-years-old.

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The identical bills came from Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier) and Del. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) and passed 65 to 29 in the House and 38 to 2 in the Senate. McClellan argued that with the previous laws, marriage was being used to cover up statutory rape.

“Sex with a child is illegal, but the way the marriage laws worked, if you were under 16 and pregnant, rather than punishing your assailant, you were allowed to marry them,” she said.

Opponents of the bill, such as Senator Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Del. David A. LaRock (R-Loudoun) expressed concern that the bill was “overly aggressive” and could lead to more abortions.

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If you’d like to mail either of these men a box of glitter to celebrate their loss and a step towards ending sex trafficking and child rape, they can be reached at:

Del. David A. LaRock (R-Loudoun):

Richmond Office: General Assembly Building, Room 721
Capitol Square
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-1033
[email protected]

District Office: P.O. Box 6
Hamilton, Virginia 20159
(540) 751-8364

Senator Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen (D-Fairfax):

Constituent Office P.O. Box 1066
Fairfax, VA 22038
Phone: 703-349-3361
Email: [email protected]

In-Session Office
Senate of Virginia
P.O. Box 396
Richmond, VA 23218
Email: [email protected]
Room Number: 323
Legislative Assistant: Kathy Neilson
Phone: 804-698-7534
Fax: 804-698-7651

 

SOURCE

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