Currently in the UK, the legal minimum age to enter into a marriage is 16 years. If the young person is under the age of 18, the consent of the young person’s parent or guardian is needed.
Too young some may say?
Certainly, that is the opinion of at least four charities in the UK, including Barnardo’s who claim that marriage in those under the age of 18 is one of the most hidden forms of abuse in women in the UK, which leads to sexual violence and domestic abuse.
Those charities in recent times have received correspondence from the Ministry of Justice confirming that it was committed to raising the minimum legal age to 18 “as soon as legislative opportunity arises”.
The news was welcomed by the former chancellor, Sajid Javid, who immediately indicated that he would introduce a private member’s bill at the earliest opportunity making it illegal for those under the age of 18 to marry. It is believed that Ministers are ready to back the bill.
Some good news for some of our most vulnerable young people since the implementation of the Forced Marriage Act in 2014, which again, campaigners loudly claimed was not enough protection. Of course, we need to bear in mind is that the onus is on a minor, a child, to seek their own assistance and help if they feel that they are being forced to marry.
Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 43 teenage boys and 140 teenage girls were married with parental consent in 2017; this data does not reflect the number marrying in non-legal religious and customary ceremonies.
If you are concerned about anyone who you feel may be being forced into entering a marriage they do not consent to, please do not hesitate to contact us. Call our experienced team today on 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email if you prefer.