Welcome to UNICEF USA!

Stay informed on UNICEF's work saving and protecting children around the world

New York, Leading the Way Against Child Marriage

June 22, 2017

"This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

Did you know that until recently, New York State law permitted children as young as 14 years old to marry?

We are happy to report that is no longer the case:  New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting marriage for children under the age of 16 in New York state; and establishing new safeguards to protect children at age 17 from forced and coercive marriages, including required judicial review of marriage licenses for 17-year-olds.

Child marriage is a harmful practice that violates of children’s rights.  Unfortunately, it is a fact of life for many children around the world, even right here in the United States.  Child marriage often leads to separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education and economic participation.  Because early marriage is usually tied to early pregnancy, girls married at a young age also face serious health risks – a girl under age 16 is five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a woman between the ages of 20 to 24.

The legislation is a start: UNICEF believes that child marriage under age 18 should be banned in all circumstances.  However, the legislation that was passed is a huge improvement from allowing marriage at age 14, and a big step forward toward on the march to finally end child marriage in New York and everywhere.

We hope you’ll join us in congratulating the Governor and state legislators for taking action to prevent child marriage, and we hope you will continue to advocate for children in the US and across the globe to ensure they have the protections they deserve.



- Stand with #ChildrenUprooted by signing the pledge today - share it with friends and family.

- Educate your community – Learn how else you can take action to protect children through our End Trafficking Toolkit.

Learn the signs and report it – If you see something say something, report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Also available in Spanish.

- Work with your community to host an event or a fundraiser to support UNICEF’s great work!

- Look through our other wonderful resources that are offered on our End Trafficking webpage.

For more ideas, contact our team at endtraffick@uniceusa.org and follow us on Twitter @EndTraffick!

Remember children are #childrenfirst!


The End Trafficking project is UNICEF USA’s initiative to raise awareness about child trafficking and mobilize communities to take meaningful action to help protect children. We do this by conducting workshops, facilitating film screenings, advocating for federal and state legislation and educating the American public on UNICEF’s work to protect children globally.