Sherry Johnson was forced to marry her rapist at age 11. Now she has pushed forward a bill that bans child marriage. She was 9 when she was raped by a 20-year-old church deacon, 10 when she gave birth, and 11 when she married the man. Her family and church said it was the best way to avoid a criminal case.
She stated on USA Today, “My heat is happy. My goal was to protect our children and I feel like my mission has been accomplished. This is not about me. I survived.”
The bill passed the Florida House on a 109-1 vote, and now goes to Governor Rick Scott. If finalized, marriage will be banned for anyone under the age of 17. 17-year-olds will still be able to get married with parental consent, but their partner can be no more than two years older.
Florida’s current law has no minimum age for marriage, when a pregnancy is involved and a judge approves. Between 2012 and 2016, 1,828 marriage licenses were issues in Florida — that included at least 1 minor. In one case, a man over the age of 90 married a girl who was 16 or 17.
Johnson was reportedly applauded by lawmakers when the bill passed.