(New York, NY, Wednesday, September 8, 2021) – The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) is committed to protecting and advancing the rights of women and children. WBASNY supports all initiatives, both locally and internationally that protect the sanctity of childhood and seek to end childhood marriage. WBASNY commends Senator Julia Salazar, Assemblyman Phil Ramos and all of the Co-Sponsors of the Bill (A.3891/S.3086), which ends childhood marriage in the State of New York. The Bill was recently signed into law and amends Section 15-a of the Domestic Relations Law increasing the age of consent for purposes of marriage to 18 in the State of New York.
Previously, in 2017 New York raised the age of consent from 14 to 17 years with parental or judicial consent. Today, this total ban on the marriage of persons under 18 in the State of New York makes New York the sixth state to ban childhood marriage. It is a milestone reflecting zealous advocacy to protect vulnerable children, particularly girls, from exploitation or violence and underscores the imperative that children must not be robbed of childhood, educational opportunities, and the chance to develop into mature and responsible adults. We hope that the other 46 States follow suit.
Globally, the statistics regarding children being forced to marry are dismal: it is estimated that 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year; 1 in 5 women alive today were married before their 18th birthday, meaning that over 650 million women currently alive were married prior to their 18th birthday. According to UNICEF over the next decade, 10 million more girls will be at risk of becoming child brides because of the global pandemic.
Childhood marriage has profoundly impacted the lives of girls. It fuels girls’ inequality, renders them vulnerable to human trafficking, sustains educational and economic disparities between women and men and devastatingly impacts communities.
WBASNY continues to support the attainment of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as Gender Equality, Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Reduced Inequalities, by 2030. Cognizant that childhood marriage impedes the attainment of most of the SDGs, WBASNY joins the call on all governments to honor their commitments to ban and address child marriage, by implementing laws and establishing comprehensive social protection mechanisms.
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The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) is the professional membership organization of choice for more than 4,000 attorneys throughout New York State, and the largest statewide women’s bar association in the country. For four decades, WBASNY has been a singularly important resource for women lawyers, with professional networking, continuing legal education programming, leadership training, and advocacy for the rights of women, children, and families. Through involvement with WBASNY’s 20 regional chapters and its 40-plus substantive law committees, WBASNY’s members collaborate with one another on a variety of issues and perform public and community service, in furtherance of its mission to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and women in the legal profession; to promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and to act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to women generally and women attorneys in particular. WBASNY holds United Nations NGO status with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information, and Special Consultative status in association with the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). WBASNY is also a founding member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.