The child brides of Missouri

The Kansas City Star has a series of articles about the prevalence of underage teenagers who get married — often to older spouses and sometimes to their rapist — in Missouri. Apparently, the Show-Me-State has the most lenient laws in the nation pertaining to 15-year-old brides, and the state is a destination for many seeking such nuptials.

From 1999 to 2015, more than 1,000 15-year-olds married in Missouri. Of those, The Star’s review of data shows, more than 300 married men age 21 or older, with some in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Assuming they had premarital sex, those grooms would be considered rapists.The definitions of statutory rape and other child sex crimes vary from state to state. Missouri defines statutory rape as anyone 21 or older having sex with someone under 17 outside of marriage. Within marriage, sex with a minor is legal. But not before.The number of possible offenders from out of state grows even higher when taking into account other states’ stricter laws, some of which prohibit older teens from having sex with younger teens.

Read more in the Kansas City Star.

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