A new law banning child marriage in Arkansas has officially been signed into effect. Democratic state Rep. Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff championed the cause, recognizing that protecting our children is among the most fundamental of our state’s responsibilities. For too long pregnancy has been used as a means to circumvent child marriage laws in Arkansas, shielding criminal behavior.
HB1708 helps to end child marriage in Arkansas by raising the marriage age to 17 regardless of circumstances, while still requiring parental consent.
“Under the previous law, 16-year-old girls and 17-year-old boys could get married with the consent of their parents. If the girl was pregnant, a judge could approve a marriage regardless of her age…Department of Health statistics show that more than 8,200 girls and 1,300 boys who were 17 or younger have been married in Arkansas since 1999.”
“In the case of pregnancy, courts could consent to marriage with no minimum threshold, no minimum at all,” said Representative Vivian Flowers, the lead sponsor of the bill. “Those are things that we can’t fathom, but a lot of the things we can’t fathom do happen. And when we find out that they happen, it’s our responsibility to correct the law where it might promote that kind of criminal behavior.”