• Kelley Jorgensen

Importing Child Brides--How The USA Enables Forced Marriage

If you thought the whole concept of mail order brides was tucked away in some Cold War Era museum you would be sadly mistaken. As if these children are to be seen as goods and services, they are imported to the US by the thousands from Mexico, Pakistan, Jordan, the Dominican Republic and Yemen.

Thousands of US adults over the last decade have applied for and received visas for children to come to the US to become their spouses. The opposite also applies as thousands of US born children also applied to have their adult spouses come to the United States. The children are being forced into marriages to provide passports to oversees spouses. They are business transactions and it must come to an end.

The Immigration and Nationality Act never lists an age requirement for people petitioning for a spouse. Additionally, USCIS only checks to see if the marriage would be legal in the home country of the beneficiary and if the marriage would be legal in the home state of the petitioner.

Other countries have much lesser restrictions on child marriage as it is customary in some nations and though there is an overwhelming belief that the US would never allow child marriage. This belief must be shattered. In many states such as New York, Virginia and Maryland, children under the age of 16 can get married with court permission. Most other American States allow a child to be married if a parent signs off on it. This is sealing their fate.

Unchained At Last is at the center of the fight against child marriage in the US. As a nonprofit organization they organize rallies where women are dressed in donated wedding dresses, chains around their wrists and electrical taped X's on their mouths. These peaceful protests highlight the need for child marriage laws in the US and raise awareness to a non shrinking problem.

Unchained At Last's founder, Fraidy Reiss was forced into marriage by her Orthodox Jewish family at age 19 was abused and says that often cases of child marriage via parental consent involve coercion, with a girl forced to marry against her will.

"They are subjected to a lifetime of domestic servitude and rape," she said. "And the government is not only complicit; they're stamping this and saying: Go ahead."

Statistics gathered by The Associated Press show that over the last decade an alarming amount of immigrant children were married here. Of the 3.5 million marriage petitions received by USCIS from 2007 to 2017, only 2.6% were denied. In those ten years, there were 204 petition approvals for a minor by a minor, 2,926 petitions approved for minors requesting to bring in adult spouses, and 5,556 petitions approved bringing minors to the Us for marriage to an adult. It's important to note that petitions can be filed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

"In nearly all the cases, the girls were the younger person in the relationship. In 149 instances, the adult was older than 40, and in 28 cases the adult was over 50, the committee found. Among the examples: In 2011, immigration officials approved a 14-year-old's petition for a 48-year-old spouse in Jamaica. A petition from a 71-year-old man was approved in 2013 for his 17-year-old wife in Guatemala."-- The Associated Press

The great United States of America has enabled, since 2007, close to 10,000 forced marriages. Something needs to be done about this. Whether it's legislature, or grass roots workshops educating families, or more awareness, we must do something.

It's time for us to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

We are.

We at The World Weddings are excited to launch out series of workshops. We will be traveling overseas to educate families on the dangers of child and forced marriage. We will be bringing resources for young girls and boys trapped in unjust marriages and we will change the way developing families view marriage.

Where will our first workshop be? You tell us! Does your home community suffer from child marriage or forced marriage? Do you want to work with us to end the unjust marriage practices around the world?

Let us know! Shoot us a comment, visit our social, or fill out our forum on the homepage!

Let's spread the knowledge, #Girlsarenotpassports

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