SSJ meets with Senator Pappas, supports child marriage bill


Submitted by Chloe Morse

SSJ met with Senator Pappas to discuss her new child marriage bill. Senator Pappas is in the middle and wearing a blue jacket, Dr. Ellen Kennedy from World Without Genocide (who arranged the opportunity for SSJ) is on the far right and the rest of the adults are also from World Without Genocide.

High schoolers in America can get married before becoming a legal adult. The current Minnesota Marriage Law allows any 16 year old to marry with consent from a parent or guardian.

According to Frontline, between 2000 and 2015, 207,459 minors in America were married; 483 of which were married in Minnesota. Additionally, 83% of minors that got married were girls, and 86% of minors married a legal adult.

According to UNICEF, 13% of girls married between the ages of 15-19 experience sexual violence from their husbands. Child marriage jeopardizes a girl’s education, economic opportunities, increases her risk of domestic violence and puts her at risk for dangerous pregnancies.

However, there are many programs and people out there working to change these harmful laws. On April 10, Students for Social Justice (SSJ) along with a few more students from the school community met with Senator Pappas about her new Child Marriage/ Age of Consent bill.

“[Pappas explained] why raising the age from 16 to 18 for child marriage is so important and [brought up] some action steps we can take,” co-president of SSJ Elea Besse said. “[She also] emphasized how it’s really on young people to pass this bill.”

Besse got in contact with Pappas through their contact at World Without Genocide.

“We were talking to Ellen Kennedy, the director of World Without Genocide, and she [told] us about the meeting with Senator Pappas, which is about the Child Marriage bill,” Besse said.

SSJ’s focus on genocide led them to seek out more information about this particular issue.

“We wanted to emphasize how women are impacted by genocides, especially with sexual assault and rape. And that is translated into how women are still targeted as a community because the majority of people who get married before the age of 18 are women, so we wanted to extend that piece of safety for all genders to this trip,” Besse said.

Not only will SSJ and others who attended the meeting takeaway more knowledge about the cause and ways they can help, they also walked away with a lot of hope.

“It’s exciting to see that young people can make a change, and I hope that we can really get this bill passed. I hope that other people will see that it is possible to make a change,” Besse said.