Many people in the United States like to believe that we are free but one woman bravely steps forward to share her story that may force you to question that belief.
Here is more from Daily Mail:
A woman has revealed how she was married off to her 24-year-old boyfriend when she got pregnant at 15, so that he could avoid charges of statutory rape.
Keri, now 21, from South Carolina, was ‘forced’ to marry Paul with her father’s consent in accordance with the law in the southeastern state.
She appears in the upcoming BBC Three documentary America’s Child Brides, which explores ‘legal loopholes’ in the 17 states in which there is no lower age limit for marriage.
Speaking to journalist Ellie Flynn, Keri, whose surname has not been revealed, explains that she and Paul found out he was being investigated by the police after she discovered she was pregnant at the tender age of 15.
She was living with her father, and met Paul through her cousin while celebrating her 15th birthday at a house party.
They had a one night stand and she fell pregnant.
‘It was basically my birthday weekend, hanging out and drinking. And then I got pregnant,’ she reveals.
The legal age of consent in South Carolina is 16, although teenagers as young as 14 are able to consent to sex as long as the partner is 18 or younger.
When Keri and Paul discovered police were investigating him, with the possibility of bringing charges for statutory rape, he decided to explore what’s often referred to as the ‘marry your rapist’ loophole.
He discovered that marrying Keri ‘might make the investigation go away’, so he decided to pop the question.
Keri wasn’t keen to get married but said that her dad was ‘a drunk’ and that Paul bought him a case of beer in order to convince him to give his permission.
She explains: ‘If my dad had wanted to, he could have pressed charges. Paul talked my dad into signing the marriage license for us.’
Keri was left angry but admits she was also eager to leave home as she ‘couldn’t handle’ living with her father anymore.
So, she accepted her father’s decision to approve the marriage in order to escape the house, choosing instead to gamble on a new life with Paul.
For his part, Paul insists that Keri had a ‘very convincing’ fake ID, and that he thought she was 18 when they had sex.
Paul went on to wed Keri – who was still wearing braces at the time – and the threat of charges ‘went away’.
But he insists that he had been in love with Keri, and that the pair had followed their hearts when they married, despite their age gap.
When asked whether he remembers things in a more positive light than Keri, Paul asks: ‘Wouldn’t you want somebody there to help you [with bringing up the baby], or would you rather have nobody help you at all?’
He concedes that some people would brand him a pedophile, but he believes the term applies to people who have sex with children ’10 years old or younger’.
‘That’s taking advantage of people, and completely wrong,’ he says.
The marriage lasted roughly two years but fell apart when Keri was 17.