An estimated 248,000 children were married in the United States between 2000 and 2010, with a the majority of cases involving a younger girl marrying an older man, according to Unchained at Last, an organization that helps victims of forced and arranged marriages.
Despite the controversial nature of child weddings, no state in the US has actually banned the practice outright. Last year, Democratic State Senator Jerry Hill attempted to make California the first, but ran into opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. He plans to re-introduce another version of the bill soon, but the new version would still allow for minors to marry.
Instead, Florida is now poised to become the first state to pass a full ban. Last week, a “no exceptions” bill authored by Republican State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto was passed unanimously by her colleagues in the Senate.
The bill is currently before the Florida house, where a floor vote is expected next week. However it has been met with some opposition and passage is no way guaranteed.
In the meantime, VICE News met with state lawmakers and child marriage survivors to talk about their attempts to change existing laws.
This segment originally aired February 9, 2018 on VICE News Tonight of HBO.