Advocates for Strict Legal Safeguards to Prevent Abuse of Children and Teens in Underage Marriages Call for Support of Hill's SB 273Hill

May 08, 2017

Media Advisory – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill –  Monday, May 8, 2017

Advocates for Strict Legal Safeguards to Prevent Abuse of Children and Teens in Underage Marriages Testify in Capitol Today in Favor of Legislation by Senator Hill

Peninsula Teen Joins Women’s Empowerment Group Leaders as Witnesses in Key Senate Committee Hearing

SACRAMENTO – Advocates for strict legal safeguards to prevent abuse of children and teens in underage or forced marriages will testify in support of Senator Jerry Hill’s Senate Bill 273 in a hearing conducted today by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

WHAT: Survivors of forced teen marriages, leaders of women’s empowerment groups, and the Peninsula teenager whose advocacy of girls’ and women’s rights inspired SB 273, voice their support for the legislation.

In addition to their testimony in the committee hearing, the witnesses will be available to the media before the hearing as some need to depart by plane soon after the proceeding.

WHEN and WHERE:

1PM Today, Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Media Availability
Witnesses will be available for group interviews in Senator Hill’s Office
State Capitol, Room 5035, Fifth Floor
Sacramento

1:30 PM Today, Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
State Capitol, Room 112, First Floor
Sacramento
Update: Senator Hill’s SB 273 is likely to be the third item on the agenda

BACKGROUND:

Eighteen is the age of consent in California. Currently, law permits individuals under 18 to marry with a court order and signed permission of at least one parent or guardian. However, there is no minimum threshold age for marriage -- meaning even very young children can be married. Female empowerment advocates have noted that current law does not have sufficient safeguards to prevent children, teens and women from being coerced or physically forced into early marriages.

The loophole in California’s law was called to Senator Hill’s attention by Aliesa Bahri, a Peninsula teenager who has been an outspoken advocate of girls’ rights, female empowerment and social justice.

As introduced in March, Senator Hill’s SB 273 originally banned minors from marrying. To address opposition and committee concerns, the bill has been amended to allow individuals under 18 to marry, but with increased court oversight to ensure that youth are not being forced or coerced into marriage.

As amended, SB 273 would now require that prior to obtaining a court order granting permission for a minor to marry:

  • Family Court Services must interview each party and at least one of the parents
  • Family Court Services must submit a report to the court documenting any finding of force, threat, coercion, or duress
  • Family Court Services must submit a report to child protective services if they know or reasonably suspect that child abuse is occurring
  • A judge must interview each party separately

SB 273 would also require counties to report marriages under 18 to the state’s Judicial Council, the policymaking body of California’s courts, and requires the Judicial Council to annually report statewide information on marriages involving minors.

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