Marriage age rises to 18 in England and Wales in ‘victory’ against child exploitation

People used to be able to get married at 16 or 17 with parental consent and at 18 with or without consent, but now the law has been changed so people can’t get married until they are 18

Pauline Latham MP called it a ‘milestone day’ against child marriage in Britain (Derby Telegraph)

A law raising the legal age for marriage to 18 has been hailed as a “major victory for the survivors” of forced marriages.

From today, people aged 16 out of 17 in England or Wales cannot marry or civil partnership – even with parental consent – to protect young teenagers.

The change means that it is now a crime to exploit vulnerable children by allowing them to marry under any circumstances.

The law will also not cover legally binding “traditional” ceremonies, which would still be considered marriages by the parties and their families, the government said.

Natasha Rattu, director of the charity Karma Nirvana, which is a member of the Girls Not Brides Coalition, said: “The change in child marriage legislation is a huge victory for survivors.

Marriage Age Raised to 18 (Stock Photo) (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“This is a major step forward in tackling this usually hidden abuse and will offer a higher level of protection to those at risk.”

“Last year the National Honor Abuse Hotline assisted 64 cases of child marriage, which is just a small picture of a much larger problem. We hope the new law will help improve identification and reporting and provide better protection for vulnerable children.”

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