Briefing on Raising the Legal Age of Marriage 2021
1 in 5 girls in the world are married before 18 UNICEF
Since 1929, marriage law in the UK allows 16-year-olds to marry with parental consent. In the past few years, with persistent effort from activist groups, individuals, and organisations, the UK government has committed to raising the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18 with the intention of safeguarding children who are at risk. This change may not be significant for the majority of British society; however, it can leave women and girls from faith, Black and Minoritised Communities at more risk of harm, abuse, and violence. Criminalising through law enactment without consulting communities and religious leaders, can usually create a gap in safeguarding women and girls in the community. This briefing will explore the facts, statistics and feminist views of some individuals and community organisations.
- The criminalisation alone will not help.
- All religious marriages should be reported to the state in an attempt to deter an increase in religious marriages before 18.
- Healthy relationship and conflict resolution workshops should be made compulsory for all 16 to 18-year-olds.
- Educate and empower religious leaders to act against marriages under 18 and to ensure they are both aware and making others aware of the potential harms it can bring.
- Policymakers need to address the inconsistencies in English law regarding the contradictory scopes of what a child can and cannot do.
- Decision-makers and policymakers need to allocate resources to educate faith and community leaders.
- Religious and community leaders need to be heavily engaged as they play a vital role in safeguarding women and girls and protecting them against marriage under 18 years old.
- Collaborative work with representative by-and-for organisations.