May. 12, 2021
While the overall prevalence of child marriage has received little attention in Nevada, it is only recently that our state legislature has enacted laws to prevent the marriage of minors under the age of 17 years old to legally wed. On March 24th, 2021, the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada hosted a virtual Gender Research Roundtable: “Ending Child Marriage in Nevada” featuring assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, who boldly advocated for and sponsored the passing of the 2019 AB139 bill. Having passed in the 2019 Nevada Legislature with bipartisan support and objections (32-8 in assembly and 15-4 in the senate), Bill AB139 became effective on October 19th of that year. 
 
This virtual roundtable offered a space to discuss the ramifications of this crucial piece of legislation closing the loophole on underage marriages. The discussion opened with a historical overview of Age of Consent debates led by Dr. Caryll Batt Dziedziak, highlighting the inconsistencies of Age of Consent state laws in U.S. history. Next, community advisory board member, Jeana Blackman Taylor, a community activist and member of WRIN’s Community Advisory Board highlighted key points of her op-ed for The Nevada Independent: (https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/bipartisan-bill-has-all-but-eliminated-underage-marriages) in support of this legislation. Jeana noted Nevada had a very inconsistent tracking of underage marriages with some counties tracking this data and others not. According to the Tahirih Justice Center, from 2015-2017, 80 percent of the underage marriages in Clark County involved at least one out-of-state party. This raises the concern of young girls being used as commodities. AB139 ensured that Nevada would not be complicit in the use of marriage as a sex trafficking tool for out-of-state predators
 
We thank Assemblywoman Bilbray-Axelrod for her advocacy and all other individuals committed to ending child marriage in our state.
 
written by Brenda Cruz Gomez, NEWL Alum & WRIN Intern