Indiana Considers Clamping Down on Teenage Marriages


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Indiana Considers Clamping Down on Teenage Marriages

Advocates say molesters have used current minimum of 15 to give legal cover to sexual abuse

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana is considering raising the legal age to get married.

A House committee heard harrowing stories from women whose parents forced them at 15 or 16 to marry men who had raped or molested them, to shield them from criminal charges. Some of them recounted being driven across multiple states to reach one that would legally marry them.

Genevieve Meyer is now a pediatric mental health professional, and says she sees many patients with abuse stories similar to her own. Once they're bound by marriage, Meyer says it becomes a catch-22 for women trying to escape abusive relationships. She says she couldn't get a divorce when she finally fled because she was pregnant -- and when she could go to divorce court, she had to fight for custody. Other women told of being turned down by apartments and by domestic-violence shelters, because while they were old enough to get married, they weren't old enough to enter into contracts.

Georgetown Republican Karen Engleman's bill would raise the minimum age from 15 to 17. 17-year-olds couldn't marry anyone over 21, and instead of a parent's consent, they'd have to persuade a judge the marriage was appropriate -- including a private meeting in chambers with the judge, away from potential intimidation.

The Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill 9-1.The full House could vote on the bill next week.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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