UK Government commits to raising the legal age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales

Date: 18th June 2021
Category: Equal protection from violence

wedding rings

Sixteen and 17-year-olds can marry in England and Wales with parental consent, putting them at risk of being coerced into child marriage. Following the voicing of serious concerns to the UK Government by a range of organisations working to end child marriage, the Ministry of Justice has said it is committed to raising the minimum legal age to 18 “as soon as legislative opportunity arises”.

A justice minister, Lord Wolfson, wrote to a number of organisations campaigning to end the forced marriage and gender-based violence. In this letter, Lord Wolfson said that marrying and having children too early in life can deprive children of important life chances. The letter said the department would consult with the Home Office on whether a new criminal offence was needed or whether the existing law on forced marriage could be amended.

In Scotland, the law allows children aged 16 to marry without parental consent.  Together has called for the minimum age  to be increased to 18 in our recent report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Read Lord Wolfson’s letter here.