Amid concerns about the rights of parents

Child marriage in Somalia Pakistan Yemen Kentucky.

A bill to make 18 the legal age for marriage in Kentucky has stalled in a Senate committee amid concerns about the rights of parents to allow children to wed at a younger age, according to several lawmakers.

Known as the “child bride” bill, Senate Bill 48 was pulled off the agenda just hours before a scheduled vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee for the second time in two weeks.

What about the rights of parents to spank children with spiked clubs? What about the rights of parents to lock their children out of the house on freezing nights? What about the rights of parents to hold their children’s hands in a flame to teach them about fire?

Parents don’t have “rights” to abuse their children. Children have rights not to be abused by their parents.

The bill’s supporters have said underage marriages most often involve a teenage girl marrying an older man and may have involved sexual exploitation of the girl.

An older man “marrying” a high school age (or younger) girl is itself sexual exploitation of the girl. He doesn’t do it because she’s a whiz at doing laundry.

Donna Pollard, a Louisville woman who said she was married at 16 to an older man who began sexually abusing her when she was 14, has advocated for the bill. She told Courier Journal that opponents include the Kentucky Family Foundation, a Lexington-based conservative group that lobbies lawmakers on social issues. Family Foundation Executive Director Kent Ostrander did not respond to requests for comment.

Ah those reactionary groups that name themselves after the word “family,” by which they actually mean male ownership and dominance over girls and women.

Pollard testified in support of the bill along with a representative of the Arlington, Virginia-based Tahirih Justice Center, a women’s advocacy organization seeking to end child marriages in the United States.

Pollard said the man she now calls her “perpetrator” became violent and abusive after they married in 2000, a wedding she said was encouraged by her mother, who married at 13.

“I felt just completely and totally trapped,” said Pollard, now divorced.

Not all of them are lucky enough to get divorced.

7 Responses to “Amid concerns about the rights of parents”