Celebrity Calls Out California Democrat for Blocking Child Marriage Bill

Actress and political activist Alyssa Milano has singled out a California Democrat for the amendments he proposed to an assembly bill in April that blocked it from appearing before the assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

Child marriage has long been a taboo subject in the U.S., but under certain circumstances—such as approval from a judge or a parent or guardian—it is permitted in several states, including California. Child marriage occurs when one or both parties is under the age of 18, but in most cases, it occurs between an underage girl and an adult man.

California has no minor age requirement for child marriage as long as a parent or guardian and a judge consents. In February, the California state assembly proposed a bill that would prohibit marriage for children under 18. However, Milano—who helped launch the #MeToo movement—and Fraidy Reiss—a forced marriage survivor who founded Unchained At Last, a nonprofit organization fighting against child marriage—have written an opinion piece for the Mercury News accusing Assemblymember Ash Kalra of proposing amendments that prevented the bill from achieving a hearing at the Judiciary Committee.

Newsweek reached out to Kalra by email for comment.

An attendee holds a placard that reads “Stop Child Marriage” at an event in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, on March 6, 2022. Actress Alyssa Milano is accusing a California assemblymember of blocking a child marriage reform…

Milano and Reiss said that more than 8,000 minors are married in California each year, most of them young girls.

“Child marriage gives a ‘get out of jail free’ card to would-be child rapists, because statutory rape within marriage is not a crime. Child marriage is a harmful practice that devastates sexual and reproductive rights,” the women argued.

Milano and Reiss alleged that Kalra was swayed by arguments from liberal organizations including Planned Parenthood, the Children’s Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union against prohibiting child marriage. Last year, California was on track to pass an absolute ban on marriages for children under 18, but the aforementioned organizations spoke out against the legislative proposal. They said that imposing an age requirement on marriage could impede a minor’s ability to seek an abortion, among other concerns, Newsweek reported.

“Their arguments are perplexing. They claim banning child marriage would drive minors in abusive relationships ‘underground,’ out of reach of social services,” Milano and Reiss wrote in the opinion piece. “Does anyone believe a minor in an abusive dating relationship benefits from marrying their abuser? Or that a minor with abusive parents can access social services only if their parents enter them into marriage?”

According to the United Nations, any form of child marriage is considered a “human rights violation and a harmful practice that disproportionately affects women and girls globally, preventing them from living their lives free from all forms of violence.”

Uncommon Knowledge Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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