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Activist Fraidy Reiss On Ending Forced Marriage In America

Fraidy Reiss founded Unchained At Last to put an end to forced marriage.

“Child marriage right now is legal in all 50 states. The marriage age laws in half of the United States are in line with laws in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.” Reiss explained. “I was raised in an insular, religious community in Brooklyn, where arranged marriage or so-called arranged marriage is the norm, and child marriage is the norm. My family arranged my marriage when I was 19 to a stranger who turned out to be violent. People think, well forced marriage, child marriage, this doesn’t happen in Brooklyn. This doesn’t happen in America. It does. I happened to me, and it is a widespread problem in the United States.”

She went on to say, “I’ve seen legislators and advocates, even people who call themselves feminists, get up and oppose legislation to end child marriage by insisting that girls, particularly pregnant teenage girls, somehow benefits from marriage. That’s outrageous. There’s a reason that the U.S. State Department considers all marriage before 18 a human rights abuse. You need to contact your state legislators. You need to contact your governor, and you need to say, ‘Really? In year 2018, we still have child marriage in our state?’”

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