Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 360 on Friday, setting 18 as the minimum age to obtain a marriage license without parental consent. Pennsylvania becomes only the third state to limit child marriage following Delaware and New Jersey.
Wolf explained that this bill “will help prevent child exploitation.” The bill says that a minor under the age of 16 cannot obtain a marriage license unless the court decides it is in the best interest of the applicants. In addition, no one under the age of 18 can obtain a marriage license unless a parent or legal guardian gives consent.
Child marriage is a global issue. A report published in 2015 found that while 18 is the minimum age for marriage in 88 percent of countries worldwide, 52 percent of countries allow girls to be married before 18 with parental consent. The report also found an estimated 250 million girls were married before the age of 15.