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Texas Has The Second-Highest Rate Of Youth Marriage In The U.S.

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As of 2014, approximately 57,800 youth ages 15 to 17 were married in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center

Forced marriages for minors are more common in the southern United States than the rest of the country. Pew data shows Texas' marriage rate for 15- to 17-year-olds is second only to West Virginia. 

Some say the study undercounts the size of the problem, as it doesn't account for married children under age 15 or youth that were married but already divorced.

Currently, independent consent for marriage in Texas begins at age 18. Parental consent must be obtained to get a marriage license at ages 16 and 17. A judge's approval can permit a marriage at any age in the state of Texas. 

Senate Bill 1705 from this year's legislative session would prohibit a person under the age of 18 from marrying, unless a judge consents, and set a statutory age "floor" at 16. The bill is now sitting on the desk of Governor Greg Abbott, waiting for a signature.

How do young people end up being coerced into matrimony? What are the legal and emotional ramifications of this kind of forced union?

Guests: 

Jan Ross Piedad is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.