Sherry Johnson, Child Bride, 2022, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 30″
At age 11, Sherry Johnson was forced to marry her rapist after she gave birth, at age 10, to his child. The marriage allowed her rapist, a church deacon, to escape legal punishment for his crime. It also robbed Johnson of her childhood. She had six children by him before she was able to leave at age 17, when she was finally old enough to legally sign divorce papers.
In the United States from 2000 to 2018, 1,000 girls younger than 15 were married and five were only 10 years old. Between 2000 and 2010, more than 167,000 children were married before their 17th birthdays in 38 states. Nearly 10% of those children, like Johnson, were married in Florida. Because of her experience as a child bride, Johnson became an advocate for restrictions against child marriages in Florida. After getting the laws changed there, Johnson continues her fight to change the laws in those states that still allow child brides.