Jump to content
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!) ×
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!)
In the Name of God بسم الله

Jews clash over age of marriage in N.J.

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

  • Veteran Member

Why New Jersey Orthodox Jews Stalled a Bill Banning Child Marriages

Under current New Jersey law, 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to marry with parental consent, and children 15 and younger are allowed to marry with permission of a judge

A bill that would ban teenagers under 18 from getting married in New Jersey has been stalled because of opposition from the state’s haredi Orthodox community.

Agudath Israel of America, the national haredi organization, says it supports the bill but that its provisions are too strict. Citing child marriages that take place in observant Jewish communities, it wants to see an exemption made for older teenagers who want to wed.

“[Saying] any marriage under the age of 18 is illegal seems a bit extreme” said Rabbi Avi Schnall, the group’s New Jersey director. “It’s a cultural thing, mostly in the Sephardic community, culturally they tend to get married younger. It’s not a Biblical obligation — most of our girls don’t get married under 18 — it’s a cultural thing. It’s part of their heritage.”

Jewish activists are driving both sides of the debate. The main group lobbying for the bill is Unchained at Last, a nonprofit that opposes underage marriage. The group’s founder, Fraidy Reiss, who grew up haredi, says child marriage, primarily of girls to older men, is an abusive practice that can damage children emotionally and physically.

“Marriage before 18 can so easily be a forced marriage or it can turn into a forced marriage,” Reiss told JTA. “You’re subjecting this girl to a human rights abuse. It destroys girls’ health, their education, their economic opportunities. It significantly increases the risk that they’ll be beaten by their spouse. It literally destroys girls’ lives.”

Under current New Jersey law, 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to marry with parental consent, and children 15 and younger are allowed to marry with permission of a judge. The bill would outlaw both of those practices.  If the bill passes, it would make New Jersey only the second state in the country to ban child marriage. Delaware banned the practice earlier this year.

The bill is supported by a majority of the state’s General Assembly, the legislature’s lower house. A similar bill passed both houses of the state legislature last year, but then-Governor Chris Christie required that the bill include the amendment Agudath is seeking, which would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to wed with the permission of their parents and a judge.

“Minors must be protected, and we applaud the attempt of the sponsors to protect children and underage girls from very unfortunate situations,” Agudah’s Schnall said. “A 17-year-old girl shouldn’t be getting married by herself, on her own. Take her before a judge. We have confidence that the judge will make the right decision.”

But the bill’s sponsors disagree, and have reintroduced it this year now that Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has replaced Christie. The current bill was set to come to a vote last week, but was removed from the agenda after Assemblyman Gary Schaer, who has spoken with Agudath on the issue, raised concerns about it. Schaer — who is Orthodox — has said he opposes the bill because of Agudath’s objections.

But speaking to JTA, Schaer avoided discussing religion, and said he just believes the bill is too absolute. To illustrate his qualms, he spoke of a hypothetical example of a 17-year-old girl who is pregnant but cannot marry the baby’s father because of the law.

“To have a situation where we’re creating an absolute — if you’re 18 you can get married, if you’re under 18 you can’t — that to me is a problem,” he said. “There needs to be some room for maneuvering, for the reality of the human condition.”

Regardless of Schaer’s opposition, the bill is expected to pass the Assembly vote this week, and once it clears both houses, Murphy is expected to sign it. The bill’s lead sponsor, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, noted that of more than 3,000 minors married in New Jersey between 1995 and 2015, 95 percent were 16 or 17. So creating an exemption for those ages, she said, would make the bill pointless.

Munoz, who is a nurse by profession, told JTA that guarding the rights of children is a focus of hers as a legislator. She said religious concerns should not trump protections afforded by secular law.

“We’re doing the bill so there won’t be exceptions to it,” she said. “Much of my legislation has to do with protecting the people from abuse and put them in a safe situation. We don’t allow 16-year olds to drive a car. We don’t allow 17-year-olds to vote. The age of majority in New Jersey is 18.”

Reiss, who attended a haredi Orthodox high school, remembers attending parties for classmates who got married while still in school. She says entering a marriage as a child is a situation fraught with danger, as children are not allowed to leave home, enter into their own contracts or retain an attorney. She said it’s unclear if a child is allowed to file for divorce in New Jersey. She also noted that the State Department considers child marriage to be gender discrimination and a human rights issue.

She said that given how vulnerable children are, it would be wrong to make child marriage subject to the review of a judge — no matter the child’s age.

“We know the judicial review process is not protecting children,” she said. “We’re going to apply that flawed process to the 95 percent of children affected by the exemption? It’s like banning age discrimination practices, except for job candidates over age 50.”

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/why-new-jersey-orthodox-jews-stalled-a-bill-banning-child-marriages-1.6152985

We really do face a lot of the same issues many people in the Muslim community also believe that 18 is a magical age at which a child becomes an adult, despite what our religion says.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member
Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, hasanhh said:

0ne story my grandmother told several times was how mad her older sisters were when our state raised the marriage age from 12 to 14.

Essentially I don't really care too much about this issue, my main problem are the implications behind it. Even in the Muslim community some people openly say it is pedophilia for a 40 year old man to marry a 16 year old girl. Once you open that door from a religious point of view it is like pulling at a loose thread on a shirt until the whole thing starts to come apart.

But I definitely think that in cultures where this is quite normal, people should mind their own business and let them get on with it.

Edited by Ali_Hussain
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member
6 minutes ago, Ali_Hussain said:

some people openly say it is pedophilia for a 40 year old man to marry a 16 year old girl.

:rolleyes:

My ex had a greatgrand mother, whom l met when she was almost 90, was married to a 54 year old man when she was 14(? -l believe it was).

He died about twenty plus years later, She dies at 104 or 106 and had spent 70+ years as a widow. ln the last decade of her life even her grandsons were too old to help her, so this fell to her great and great-great grandsons and daughters.

l know other stories.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member
Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, hasanhh said:

:rolleyes:

My ex had a greatgrand mother, whom l met when she was almost 90, was married to a 54 year old man when she was 14(? -l believe it was).

He died about twenty plus years later, She dies at 104 or 106 and had spent 70+ years as a widow. ln the last decade of her life even her grandsons were too old to help her, so this fell to her great and great-great grandsons and daughters.

l know other stories.

Generally speaking, because women take so long to mature, it is probably more advisable for a man to marry a woman is who much older than himself, the only issue would be her ability to bare children.

Edited by Ali_Hussain
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member
Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Ali_Hussain said:

it is probably more advisable for a man to marry a woman is who much older

:dwarf:"Are you cwazy?"

Being marred is bad enough as it is. Why would you encourage these young guys to get hitched to an old nag?

 

Besides, you have it backwards.

Edited by hasanhh
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

They have no problem with teenagers dating, they have no problems with them getting tattoos and drinking in parties, they don't even condemn them having intercourse. But a lawful and holy relationship is where they draw the line? May Allah hasten the return of Imam Mahdi.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderators
5 hours ago, Ali_Hussain said:

Essentially I don't really care too much about this issue, my main problem are the implications behind it

I think we should care about it and I applaud the orthodox jewish community for stalling it. Increasing the marriage age is just opening the door for more fornication. 

Personally I would also recommend my own children to get married as early as legally permissible. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member
3 minutes ago, Mahdavist said:

I think we should care about it and I applaud the orthodox jewish community for stalling it. Increasing the marriage age is just opening the door for more fornication. 

Personally I would also recommend my own children to get married as early as legally permissible. 

I just think that with the issue of marriages with so-called underage girls, given the current climate we have to be a bit careful how we position ourselves with regards to it.

I do applaud the Orthodox Jewish community for their stance but from our point of view I think that we should pick the battles that we can win and our position on the age at which a girl can get married isn't very palatable at the moment. But we should definitely support them and back them on this issue.

Another reason that I said that I don't care is that I haven't seen that many successful marriages in recent times that involve teenagers, I've met people who are divorced in their early twenties so I don't think it is the end of the world if a girl has to wait until she is 18 or 19 rather than 16 or 17

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderators
27 minutes ago, Ali_Hussain said:

Another reason that I said that I don't care is that I haven't seen that many successful marriages in recent times that involve teenagers, I've met people who are divorced in their early twenties so I don't think it is the end of the world if a girl has to wait until she is 18 or 19 rather than 16 or 17

Brother unfortunately many even marry in their thirties and still divorce soon after. I don't think age is the issue. If anything, leaving it too late is probably more problematic. 

Regarding your other comment, I think if we are not true to our position we lose it completely. I am not saying we should promote getting married at puberty, but in general the lower the age of consent is kept the better it is because ultimately this will be our legal limitation. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...