A Florida woman has claimed that she was compelled to marry the man who raped her when she was 11.
Sherry Johnson says when she was a child she was subjected to rape by members of her family’s church congregation, which led her to be pregnant when she reached the age of 10.
She could not attend school
When investigations were conducted into her case, she claims that her family compelled her to marry her rapist just to protect him.
“My mom asked me if I wanted to get married, and I said, ‘I don’t know, what is marriage, how do I act like a wife?’” Ms Johnson told The New York Times. “She said, ‘Well, I guess you’re just going to get married.’”
Ms Johnson says that her marriage hindered her from going to school as any girl her age. However, she used to look after their nine children and stood with her husband when he their financial status was poor.
“It was a terrible life,” Ms Johnson said.
Like most child marriages, Johnson’s marriage did not work out.
Later on, Johnson later wrote a book called “Forgiving the Unforgivable”, writing about her life and plight. Johnson’s plight promoted Florida state Representative Cynthia Stafford to put forward a bill that outlaws underage marriage in Florida.
Attempts to outlaw the act
“Marriage is an adult responsibility,” Ms Stafford said. “We don’t want them to vote, we don’t want them to drink alcohol, they can’t drive a car, and we allow them to marry under 16?”
Although Stafford’s legislation and a similar Senate bill were shelved in the committee, another relevant law was rejected by the New Hampshire state legislature this year.
Moreover, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie rejected a law that would have outlawed child marriage without exception.
“An exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions,” Mr Christie said in a statement.
Florida is among 27 US states that allow children to be married as long as their parents permit it.