A woman in Florida has opened up about how she was raped and forced to marry her rapist when she was only 11 years old.
Sherry Johnson said she was raped four times by members of the church her family used to take her to and became pregnant at the age of 10. Her horrible experience did not end here as she was pressured to marry the abuser.
“My mum 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?’” Johnson said in an interview with The New York Times. “She said, ‘Well, I guess you’re just going to get married.’”
Florida is among the 27 states which allow children to get married with their parents’ consent. The survivor of child sex abuse says she could not attend her school with regularity because of the marriage and would remain pre-occupied with raising their nine children.
“It was a terrible life,” Johnson said
The marriage eventually ended but its memories still haunt Johnson.
She wrote a book on her experience titled “Forgiving the Unforgivable” which paved the way for discussing on banning the child marriages in the United States.
A recently carried out research says that 9.4 million US women were married before they turned 16.
This month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a law that would have prohibited child marriage without any exception.
“An exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions,” Christie said.
“You can’t get a job, you can’t get a car, you can’t get a license, you can’t sign a lease,” Johnson said. “So why allow someone to marry when they’re still so young?”