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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A new Vermont law that raises the eligibility age for marriage to 18 takes effect in July.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed the legislation on Thursday, making Vermont the eighth state in the country to end child marriage.

Supporters said it will reduce domestic violence and unwanted pregnancies and improve the education and lives of teenagers.

A New Jersey-based group has been lobbying to end child marriage across the country, calling it a “human rights abuse.” It said between the years 2000 and 2018, nearly 300,000 children were married in the U.S., and most of the marriages were between girls and adult men. In Vermont, 289 children under the age of 18 were married between 2000 and 2021 and 80% of them were girls married to adult men, according to the organization.

Under existing law, Vermonters aged 16 and 17 can get married with the consent of one parent. That changes when the new law takes effect on July 1.

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