BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The New York State Senate unanimously approved a bill to increase the legal age of consent for marriage up to 17.
"I think it's a common sense piece of legislation, and I believe there's widespread support for it, so I look forward to seeing it move through the Assembly," said Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Democrat from Lancaster.
Currently, children as young as 14 years old can legally wed in New York.
Wallace is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would also increase the requirements for 17 year olds hoping to get married. They would need permission from both parents as well as judicial approval.
"This bill is intended to provide procedural protections against forced marriage or child exploitation," Wallace said.
Statistics from the State Department of Health show at least 3,850 children got married in New York between 2000 and 2010. Around 84% were young girls marrying older men, according to the National Organization for Women.
Human Rights Watch says girls who marry before 18 are more likely to drop out of school, live in poverty and be victims of domestic violence.
The bill is now before the Assembly. If it passes there, it would go to Governor Cuomo for his signature or a veto. The governor has previously announced support for raising the marital age of consent; however, it does not appear he has commented on this specific proposal.
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