EDEN, N.C. (WGHP) — A woman from Eden, who was forced into a “shotgun” wedding at the age of 15, has opened up about the experience to The News & Observer in an effort to convince lawmakers to pass a bill to ban child marriages in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, children as young as 14 can marry if they become pregnant. Children as young as 16 can marry with a parent’s permission.
North Carolina and Alaska are the only two states that allow 14-year-olds to marry.
State Sen. Danny Britt, a Republican who represents Columbus and Robeson counties, said that some of his fellow state senators support a bill draft that would have banned all child marriages, according to The News & Observer.
Advocates say that North Carolina’s child marriage laws have turned the state into a destination for trafficking.
However, Britt says that he has heard some of his fellow senators say that they felt that they couldn’t pass the bill because they had married as minors, married a minor or know someone who married as a minor, according to The News and Observer.
The woman who shared her personal story with the newspaper now lives out of state, but her attention was drawn back to North Carolina when she heard about the struggle to pass these bills. She said she would urge lawmakers to ban child marriage.
“I think that that was the worst thing that I could have done at that time, especially at 15 years old, and I thought it was a life sentence,” the woman told the newspaper.
Her experience, she said, was “shaming” and trapped her in an abusive situation that she doesn’t want other North Carolina teenagers to endure, The News & Observer reports.