New legislation banning child marriage has come into force in England and Wales. The legal age of marriage has been raised to 18, meaning 16 and 17-year-olds can no longer get married or have a civil partnership even if their parents give consent.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022, which came into effect on 27 February 2023, means it is now against the law to push children into marriage. Offenders who arrange child marriages face a seven-year prison sentence.
Pauline Latham MP, who helped bring about the changes to the law through a Private Members Bill presented to parliament, said, “The change to legislation on child marriage is a huge victory for survivors. It is a huge leap forwards to tackling this usually hidden abuse and will provide a greater degree of protection to those at risk.”
If you are experiencing or afraid that you are at risk of honour-based violence or forced marriage, there are people that you can speak to who will be able to provide you with help and support, in confidence.