Protecting Children from Forced Marriage in England and Wales

The legal age of marriage has been raised to 18 throughout England and Wales.

This new law is designed to protect children from the damaging effects of forced marriage, which is when someone is made to marry against their will. This raise in the minimum age of marriage is a positive step towards protecting vulnerable children and young people from this form of abuse.

What is Forced Marriage?

Forced marriage occurs when one or both parties are not given a choice about whether or not to enter into the union. It can involve physical, psychological, financial, sexual, and emotional pressure. In some cases, victims may even be tricked into believing that they are taking part in a traditional ceremony or celebration when it is actually a forced marriage. Forced marriages can have serious negative impacts on those involved, including physical violence and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and PTSD.

The New Law

Under the new law in England and Wales, anyone under 18 years old cannot get married or enter into a Civil Partnership under any circumstances as of 26th February 2023. This includes cases where there might previously have been parental or judicial consent. If someone tries to force someone else under 18 into getting married without obtaining this permission first, they could face up to seven years in prison. This law also applies if an adult tries to take someone out of England or Wales with the intention of forcing them into getting married abroad.

Raising awareness

In addition to changing the law, raising awareness around this issue is key for preventing forced marriages from occurring in the first place. Educating young people about their rights and helping them understand signs that they may be at risk can go a long way towards creating a society free from this form of abuse. There are organisations like Karma Nirvana which offer support for those affected by forced marriage as well as providing advice on how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The new law requiring is an important step towards protecting vulnerable children across England and Wales from being forced into marriage against their will. Raising awareness around this issue plays an equally important role in preventing these situations from occurring in the first place.

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