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The legal age of marriage in England and Wales is set to be raised to 18 under a new bill.
The government has now backed a bill put forward by Conservative MP Pauline Latham that will stop 16-and 17-year-olds from marrying with parental or judicial consent.
There will also be a crackdown on arranged marriages under this bill, which will make it easier to prosecute parents whose children are sent off for marriage, whether this be in England, Wales or in a country outside of the UK.
As reported by the Mirror, Latham argued:
They are too young to make that decision themselves. The point of this Bill is to stop them having their parents make that decision on their behalf. They are not old enough to do it.
She went on to give the example of Payzee Mahmod, who ‘was just 16 when she was coerced into marrying a man literally twice her age, 32, who she didn’t know’ against her will.
Payzee’s sister, Banaz, ‘was married to an abusive husband’, and was ‘murdered by men from her own family and community’ after managing to leave.
At the time of writing, it is only against the law to force an underage person into marriage by using ‘violence, threats or coercion’.
This new law would make it illegal to ‘carry out any conduct’ with the aim of causing a child to be married off. This conduct could include booking flights or a wedding venue.
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