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Legal Age Of Marriage In England Raised To 18

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Legal Age Of Marriage In England Raised To 18

The legal age of marriage and civil partnerships has risen to 18 in England and Wales after the bill passed through Parliament with little opposition.

Having successfully passed through Parliament the bill is set to receive Royal Assent later this week, meaning it will officially become law.

Cultural or religious marriages that are not registered with the local council will also be subject to the new law, which will prevent young people from potentially being forced into marriages by their family members.

Wedding rings. Credit: Pixabay
Wedding rings. Credit: Pixabay
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Payzee Mahmod was coerced by her Iraqi-Kurdish family in London into marrying a man around twice her age when she was just 16 years old. Payzee escaped her marriage, but her older sister Banaz, who was also forced into marriage, was murdered by members of her family in a so-called honour killing.

In a tweet about the new law posted today (26 April), Payzee wrote: "On my way to Parliament for The Third and Final reading of our Child Marriage Bill... Struggling to put in to words what this means. I feel so many emotions. This is real life change. This is for me, for Banaz, for any child impacted by child marriage...

"This morning my thoughts were clouded with the day I became a child bride. My day started today and that day very early. Anxious both days. Scared both days. Tears both days. But today today tears of joy roll down my face because I know what this means for girls like me," Payzee continued.

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Previously people in England and Wales were legally allowed to get married at 16 or 17 as long as they had parental consent, meaning at the time neither Payzee or Banaz's marriages were technically breaking the law despite the girls being coerced.

Conservative MP Pauline Latham, who introduced the law to Parliament, said the change would 'transform the life chances of many girls'.

Under the new rules, those under the age of 18 will not face penalties, but adults who facilitate their marriage, including those who take their child abroad in an attempt to carry out a marriage, could face up to seven years in jail as well as a fine.

The new law will not affect the validity of any existing marriages or civil partnerships which took place before the legislation comes into force. Neither does it apply to Northern Ireland and Scotland, where the minimum age will stay at 16.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News, Crime, Sex and Relationships

Emily Brown
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