Letter to the editor: Who is protecting Florida’s children?

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Having spent a year in Kandahar, Afghanistan where the treatment of women and girls is nothing short of abysmal, I was shocked to read an article in the Florida Bar News, dated November 15, 2017, citing Florida’s child marriage loophole.

Statutory rape in Florida is a strict liability crime, which means that liability for the act of engaging in sex with a minor is absolute, whether or not there was intent to harm. Under the law, minors are incapable of consent and these laws were enacted to provide protection to children who are taken advantage of by adults.

According to the Florida Bar News article, the Bureau of Vital Statistics has documented the issuance of 1,828 marriage licenses in the last 5 years in Florida in which at least one party was a minor; eight of which were issued to parties of which the minors were between 10 and 14! The article cited that “[g]irls as young as 10 get married in Florida. Adults from 18 to 94 marry minors.”

This is reprehensible, and it is stunning to learn that our Legislature is just now considering closing this loophole. These children are left to cope with the continuous trauma of sexual assaults sanctioned by those who are supposed to protect them. God help us!

Lucy Ann Hoover

Retired FBI Agent

Middleburg

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