The city of Huntington Beach passed a resolution on Sept. 7 announcing its commitment to end child marriage, making it the 11th Orange County city to call on the California legislature to introduce and pass a ban on the matter.
Elizabeth Sitton, a survivor of child marriage who was forced to marry a 28-year-old man at just 16 years old, said the move by Huntington Beach was great news.
“I am elated to see the city of Huntington Beach and other California cities taking a stand against child marriage. As a survivor, having been married off against my will at the age of sixteen, I reflect on the horror I felt at seeing every adult in my path to the altar turn a blind eye,” Sitton told The Epoch Times via email.
“Now I see the dominos falling on their way to Sacramento, where we will once again appeal to the Governor to end child marriage in our state. My deepest appreciation for the support that is being shown in all of these efforts and for Global Hope 365, who has been driving this mission.”
According to data from the city’s agenda report on child marriage, minors are coerced and forced into marriages across U.S. cities each year, with more than 200,000 minors being married between 2000 and 2015. It is mostly girls being married to adult men, it states.
The city council passed the vote 6–0, with Councilman Dan Kalmick absent, as part of a larger resolution considering the city’s positions pending on state and federal legislature as recommended by the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, with no discussion on the issue of child marriage.
Included in reasons for encouraging the ban, the resolution states that the American Medical Association has called for an end to it, noting that child marriage is known to cause early pregnancies, higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, intimate partner violence, as well as high rates of divorce, at around 70 to 80 percent.
Additionally, minors who marry are more likely to discontinue their formal education prematurely, earn low wages, and live in poverty, it stated, adding that girls who marry early are 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college.
Global Hope 365, an organization working to end child marriage globally, has stated that the harmful effects of child marriage need to be put to an end.
“Many states, including California, allow for marriage under the age of 18, with parental and/or judicial consent. These exceptions including parental and judicial consent have allowed for vulnerable children to be married into legal contracts that take away their rights to sovereignty and make children vulnerable to abusive marriages,” the organization said on its website.
Global Hope 365 said in a Sept. 9 tweet that the city council’s decision was “another win” for the cause.
#BreakingNews! Another win for @GlobalHope365 On 9/7/2021 @CityofHBPIO now the 11th City in CA to pass our resolution to #EndChildMarriage, #Under18, #NoExceptions! TY @kimcarr4hb for your leadership & @Barbara4HB along with all the Councilmembers! #Endit #TraffickingTruth pic.twitter.com/EjtPN8vd83
— Global Hope 365 (@GlobalHope365) September 9, 2021