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Bill Filed to End Child Marriage in Florida

August 21st, 2017 by Jake Stofan

 

Between 2000 and 2015 16,417 children under the age of 18 were married in the state of Florida.

It’s a practice allowed under Florida law, but a group of activists and Florida Lawmakers are looking to change that.

Florida law says 16 year olds can be married with parental consent and exceptions can be made for children of any age if pregnancy is involved.

46 years ago one such exception was made for then eleven year old Sherry Johnson.

She had been impregnated by a man who had raped her.

 

“I was actually raped at eight years of age, got pregnant at nine, gave birth to may daughter at ten years,” said Johnson.

Her strict religious parents forced her to become his bride.

With a judges signature the two were husband and wife.

Johnson says she was completely unprepared.

 

“You don’t know how to be a wife. You have no idea what you’re really getting into,” Johnson said. “All you can try to do is what I did and that’s mimic those I had seen and watched.”

Now 57 Johnson has written a book about her experiences.

She’s on a mission to spread awareness and change a loophole she says is still victimizing children.

About 40 minors aged 15 and under are married each year in the State of Florida according to the latest statistics gathered by the organization, “Unchained at Last”.

In 2014 Legislation passed the House that would have banned marriage under the age of 16, but it didn’t have any traction in the Senate.

This year however, a bill has been filed that would ban marriage for anyone under the age of 18.

 

“People are learning more [about] what actually happens here in the state of Florida. They’re hearing about it. Where before it was not something that was talked about. It was all so to speak pushed under the rug,” said Johnson.

If approved the the legislation would make Florida’s marriage law the strictest in the nation.

Sherry Johnson runs the TaMar Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting sex abuse.

You can learn more about it by going to following this link.

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