UK Could Raise Marriage Age to 18 to Tackle Forced Weddings

child bride
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Government ministers are considering raising the minimum age for marriage in England and Wales from 16, as the phenomenon of children from minority communities being taken abroad for forced weddings intensifies.

Equalities minister Baroness Williams of Trafford and the Home Secretary Sajid Javid are among those working on fighting abuse of minors, which takes many forms but can include forced marriage in ancestral homelands for young British residents, reports The Times.

Normally the marriage age is 18, but 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to marry with parents’ consent — an important loophole because many forced marriage cases involve family pressure, and the consent of a parent. The newspaper report claims the issue is of particular interest to campaigners now because “the forced marriages of teenagers in Asian communities are often perpetrated by parents”.

Speaking at a House of Lords committee Wednesday, Baroness Williams responded to whether the government would review the law to make it easier to tackle forced marriages, saying: “I will certainly bring that point back because [it] is absolutely right to be concerned about it.”

Breitbart London reported in August on the abuse of young people in minority communities, with the government accused of turning a blind eye to the forced marriage, rape, and even impregnation of British-resident girls when taken abroad by family, often during school holidays. Instead of punishing those responsible, in potentially hundreds of cases, the rapists were given British visas to join their young brides instead.

While the British government logged 1,200 forced marriage cases in 2017, one forced marriage support charity said it received almost 13,000 calls for help to its hotline in just one year.

Despite the extremely small number of forced marriage cases actually going to court, with just 80 individuals charged and three convicted in the past three years, there have been some efforts to help children taken abroad for abuse.

Targeting those facing female genital mutilation and forced marriage, British police warned children before the summer holidays about the risk of being exposed to “honour-based violence”. Working under operation Limelight and others, officers were deployed to airports and children advised to hide a spoon in their underwear to deliberately set off metal detectors and bring the attention of the authorities to themselves.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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