HARRISBURG, September 18, 2018 – Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) will participate in a press conference on September 25th at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. He will be joined by colleagues and advocacy groups to raise awareness for his Senate Bill 1219, which aims to close loopholes that allows for child marriage to occur in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania is one of 18 states that does not specify a minimum age at which a person can be married,” Sabatina said. “Support and passage of Senate Bill 1219 is imperative to bring an end to legal exceptions that allow minors to be married in Pennsylvania.”

Current Pennsylvania law allows for (1) parental consent and judicial approval for a child under 16 and (2) parental consent for children 16-18 years of age to be married. However, minors are unable to sign binding contracts such as housing agreements, file for divorce, and in some cases are not yet old enough to drive.

If passed and signed into law, Senate Bill 1219 would eliminate all legal exceptions that allow for the marriages of children under the age of 18.

Sabatina stated that it is crucial the Senate and House work together to ensure that Pennsylvania children are fully protected from the threat of child marriage.     

“We must strive to protect Pennsylvania children from this form of abuse,” Sabatina said. “I look forward to raising awareness about this unacceptable practice with the support of my colleagues in both chambers.”

According to Unchained at Last, an organization that works to end child marriages, children who are forced into marriage before the age of 18 face lifelong, devastating consequences in terms of health, education, economic opportunities, and quality of life. Predominately young girls are affected by harmful child marriages, which are considered a “human rights abuse” by the U.S. Department of State.

The press conference will begin at 9:00 am on September 25th in the Capitol Rotunda. Representatives from Unchained at Last and the AHA Foundation, a non-profit that works to end cultural practices that harm the lives of women and girls, will be at the event.

It is estimated that nearly some quarter-million child marriages were granted in the United States between 2000-2010. In 2014, it was estimated that more than 2,300 children aged 15 to 17 were married and living in Pennsylvania.