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MP Pauline Latham's bid to criminalise child marriage under 18

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image captionMP Pauline Latham said married children were at an increased risk of interrupted or stopped education, early pregnancy, and domestic violence and abuse

An MP has called for the minimum age of marriage to be changed to 18 with no exceptions.

The legal minimum age of marriage is 16 in England, however children aged under 18 must have parental consent.

Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, has presented the Marriage and Civil Partnership bill, saying "we need to safeguard these children".

A charity supporting forced marriage victims said the bill would have a "massive" impact.

The bill would revoke parental or judicial consent which permits the marriage or civil partnership of a child, and criminalise child marriage or civil partnership under the age of 18.

image copyrightUK Parliament
image captionMrs Latham said at the age of 16, very few young people were able to fight against their parents

In the Commons on Tuesday, Mrs Latham said: "Why are we allowing marriage of children in this country when the recognised age of adulthood is 18?

"This law dates back to 1929... since then our understanding of childhood and marriage has changed significantly. The United Kingdom now requires everyone to be in education or training until the age of 18."

She added: "They should not be leaving their education in order to be married so they can never have an economic future of independence."

image captionPayzee Mahmod, who was married at 16, said marriage was not something a child could decide about

Payzee Mahmod, whose sister Banaz was killed in a so-called honour killing after leaving a forced marriage, told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire her sister would still be alive if she had not been made to marry at 17.

Ms Mahmod, who was also married at 16 to someone she did not know, said: "At 16, what child wants to be married and take on the responsibility that comes with marriage? No child."

Natasha Rattu, from Karma Nirvana - a charity supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage - has been working with Mrs Latham on the bill and said she was "delighted" it had been introduced.

She said there was so much 16-year-olds could not do that, "it is a bit of an oxymoron you can marry as a child".

Mrs Rattu added: "Child marriage has so many negative consequences. We think challenging the law will help to shine a spotlight on it."

The bill was listed for a second reading on 13 November.

A government spokesperson said: "The law is clear that all couples, regardless of their age, must enter into marriage freely. We will not hesitate to take action where necessary and have issued more than 2,600 Forced Marriage Protection Orders."

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Related Topics

  • Pauline Latham
  • Child marriage
  • Forced marriage
  • Marriage

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