9-Year-Old Boy Dies After Being Shot in Head in Croixville Housing Community; Police Detain 15-Year-Old

Concerned Residents Clean Christiansted Town Using Their Own Tools, Money, and Some Help from the VI Fire Service

Territory May See Veterans Cemetery Through DeGazon-Sponsored Bill

Credit and Debit Cards of WAPA Customers Were Compromised Since August 30th, WAPA Says, Authority to Finally Start Issuing Notification Via Mail and Email

Sports Tourism in VI Gains Momentum as DC United Team is set to Play Exhibition Soccer Game on St. Croix

Carnival Breeze Brings 3,700 Tourists to St. Croix During Maiden Call; Senators, Tourism Officials Want to See More

Limetree Bay Willing To Provide $10 Million To Help Add Life to a Dying G.E.R.S.

American Airlines to Serve St. Croix With New Flights Next Summer

The Sudden Death of Influential Roots Reggae Visionary, Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite Band and Akae Beka, Has Rocked the Virgin Islands and Reggae Community Around the World

Arthur A. Richards K-8 School Hosts Anti-Bullying Campaign

Come Out. Hang Out. Have Fun at The Meat Up, One of St. Thomas’ Latest Hot-Spot for Good Food with Friends and Family.

UVI Board of Trustees Approves $47.1 Million Fiscal Year 2020 Budget; Sets $3 Million Fundraising Goal

Man Dies During Early Morning Car Accident on St. Croix; Driver of Car Arrested (Updated)

'You Did Everything You Could to Prevent this from Happening': An Emotional Goodbye to Young Aaron Benjamin

Back in Business: Cost U Less on St. Thomas Opened its Doors Friday to Thousands of Customers 2 Years after Irma and Maria

Bill Aimed at Regulating Credit Use by Gov't Departments and Agencies Among Others Held in Committee

Juan Luis Hospital Announces Completion and Availability of Mobile Dialysis Facilities

Tractor Trailer With Tank Carrying Thousands Of Gallons of Liquified Gas Flips Near Cool Out Bar; Driver Injured But Alive

Credit and Debit Card Hack Through WAPA Appears to be Widespread in Virgin Islands; WAPA Says Support Services Will be Made Available to Affected Customers

Facing Life in Prison Without Parole, Mother and Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty in Murder of 4-Year-Old Boy

James-Sponsored Bill To End Child Marriage Moves Forward

Breaking News / Featured / News / Virgin Islands / October 29, 2019

Senator Javan James has sponsored a bill that would end child marriage in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the measure has succeeded at overcoming its first hurdle during a Senate hearing in the Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks, and Recreation — which Mr. James chairs — today.

Bill No. 33-0109 is an Act amending Virgin Islands Code by prohibiting the issuance of a marriage license to persons under the age of 18. The measure now heads to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further vetting.

Presently, the existing law allows for underaged teenagers to be forced into marriage with the consent of their father, single mother, or guardian. Sexual intercourse with a child from ages thirteen to seventeen is considered second-degree aggravated rape and is punishable to up to life in prison under Virgin Islands law. However, once the child is married, this law is no longer applicable.

“The current Virgin Islands Code allows females who are 14 years old and males who are 16 years old to be married in the U.S. Virgin Islands with the consent of the parents or guardian. Based on my research and collaboration with nonprofit organizations, we found it fitting to stop underage-marriage in the territory,” Mr. James said.

Between 2000 and 2015, there were at least 207,468 marriages involving minors in the United States, according to figures from PBS’s Frontline. In May 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have ended legal child marriage in his state, in part because he said that he believed it would violate religious customs. “I agree that protecting the well-being, dignity, and freedom of minors is vital, but the severe bar this bill creates is not necessary to address the concerns voiced by the bill’s proponents and does not comport with the sensibilities and, in some cases, the religious customs, of the people of this State,” Mr. Christie said at the time.

The law passed in the state in June 2018 under Governor Phil Murphy, requiring persons to wait until they’re 18 to obtain a marriage license.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council Executive Director Khnuma Simmonds expressed support for the bill. “The legal age to vote and to sign-up for the army is age 18, yet it is legal for an underage child to marry an adult. There is no excuse to be senseless and lawless because legally a child is still not independent despite entering into a marriage,” she said.

Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of Unchained at Last, a nonprofit devoted to ending child marriages, said that underaged children forced into marriages scarcely have legal rights. “Children in the Virgin Islands do not have the right to leave home and seek refuge in shelters from parents who are planning unwanted marriages or trying to escape an abusive spouse,” Mr. Fraidy said.

Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner Carla Benjamin stated that DHS frequently encountered child marriages during investigations of cases of teenage pregnancy. However, the statistics on the number of child marriages in the territory is currently unknown because it was not prohibited by law.

There is no federal law regarding child marriage. Every state sets its own requirements.

Staff Consortium

Previous Post

Opinion |Domestic Violence Should Not Only be Remembered in October

Next Post

UVI Students Receive $20,000 in Scholarships from Margaritaville

Leave a Reply

More Story

Opinion |Domestic Violence Should Not Only be Remembered in October

The Caribbean regions have attracted worldwide attention for some of the highest-profile cases of gendered- based, and domestic...

October 29, 2019