New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to sign a law banning child marriage in his state just last month.Research shows child marriages are associated with higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, spousal abuse, and divorce.Laws in almost every state allow children under age 18 to marry with parental and court consent or in the case of pregnancy, according to the Tahirih Justice Centre.

The persistent belief is that women are looking for long-term committed relationship and men are looking for short-term sexual relationships.

That may be true for younger people, but that isn’t always the case at this age, she says.

Ms Johnson, who had given birth to at least one child by age 10, described her married life as “terrible”.

“You can’t get a job, you can’t get a car, you can’t get a license, you can’t sign a lease,” she said, “so why allow someone to marry when they’re still so young?

They desired companionship and a social life — and sex.

But they were not willing to compromise on losing their sense of freedom, to the point that they were “willing to be lonely before sacrificing independence.” I don’t want to be alone or lose my freedom — is it possible to have both without having to become a wife again?

Women who marry as teens are also more likely to develop psychiatric disorders and have decreased access to education and work opportunities.

Nicholas Kristoff recently highlighted the plight of one woman, Sherry Johnson, who says she was forced to marry at age 11.

Officials estimate that more than 3,800 minors were married in New York in the decade between 20.