US woman forced to marry rapist at 11 helps change child marriage law

Sherry Johnson fiercely hugged bill sponsor Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto after the vote.
Sherry Johnson fiercely hugged bill sponsor Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto after the vote. Photo credit: Getty

A woman who was wed to her rapist as a child has won a legal battle to ban child marriages in Florida. 

Sherry Johnson was a driving force behind the change that saw a Bill prohibiting marriage for anyone under 17 passed.

At age 11, Ms Johnson was forced to marry her rapist and the father of her child. 

She then made it her mission to ensure no other child in the US would have to be forced into marriage. 

"I'm happy. My heart is happy," Ms Johnson told Inside Edition

"I had a lot of legislators tell me, toe-to-toe, there's no such law that a child can get married.

"I said you need to do your homework because it's happening." 

Ms Johnson said no one was there to protect her when she found out she was going to be married.

"They protected him by putting the handcuffs on me, instead of putting the handcuffs on him - and he was the rapist."

While the state Senate originally passed a Bill banning marriage for anyone under the age of 18, the House wanted to carve out exceptions for 16- and 17-year-olds that fall pregnant.

Instead the Bill has a minimum age requirement of 17 and does not include pregnancy exceptions.

The Florida Bill will go on to become the strictest child marriage law in the United States.

Newshub.