MISSOULA — A Missoula-based organization is undertaking the first comprehensive analysis of state laws surrounding child marriage, sex crimes, and others that it says have to do with public safety.
The “Safe Community Challenge” by the Public Policy Institute of the Rockies examines laws around child marriage, consent to sexual contact, discrimination, sexual assault kit testing, spousal rape, and the statute of limitations for sexual crimes. For now, just western states have been analyzed.
The Institute's CEO Kim Dudik, said her varied experience as a domestic violence advocate, registered nurse, attorney, prosecutor, and state legislator has culminated to this passion project.
She told MTN News that in Montana, the age of consent for marriage is permitted for 16-year-olds under some circumstances, which she argues may hurt children. The information provided in their program, she says, may educate lawmakers and advocates on the current laws surrounding the issue and more.
“We’ve tried to make that easily accessible to them so they can gain the knowledge and learn from other’s experiences. Not only here in Montana, but also nationwide to see what we can do better," Dudik explained, "We’re hoping that this will improve knowledge, improve experience, and also make people understand why these are so important, why it matters that we have a strong child marriage law for example.”
The free scorecards are available to the public on their website.