The Legal Age Of Marriage Raised To 18 In England And Wales 

A male or a female has to be 18 in England and Wales to get married from now onwards. Previously, people over here could enter into matrimonial alliance at 16 or 17 as long as they had parental consent. 

The bill for raising the age of marriage was put forward last year by Conservative MP Pauline Latham and was approved by the House of Lords with support from both Government and opposition parties, on 26 April 2022. 

It will receive Royal Assent and become law later this week. 

Earlier, people could get married before 18 with parental consent, but campaigners were against it as they warned that it leaves girls, in particular, at risk of being coerced into forced marriages. 

It’s an offence to marry a child, under the law, and applies to both registered marriages and unregistered ceremonial events. 

The offence would apply “whether or not it is carried out in England and Wales,” which means that it is still an offence to take children out of the country to get them married. 

The legal marriage is still 16, with parental consent in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Payzee Malika, who was forcibly married at the age of 16, tweeted, “Struggling to put into words what this means. I feel so many emotions. This is real life change. This journey has been an incredible one. I’ve worked with so many women who have supported me, one another and this campaign. There is no us without you all. This is for every girl.” 

Ms Malika’s sister, Banaz Mahmod was murdered in 2006, as she ended a violent and abusive forced marriage, under the garb of honour killing. 

She added, “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 tears of joy roll down my face because I know what this means for girls like me,” she said. 

Ms Latham said she was “thrilled” the bill was “on its way to becoming law”. 

She said, “Thank you to all those who have supported the campaign to end child marriage once and for all in this country”. 

The bill would not affect the validity of any marriages or civil partnerships entered before it came into force. 

The new law also applies to cultural or religious marriages that are not registered with the local council. 

Under the new rules, children will not face penalties but adults who facilitate their marriage could face up to seven years in jail and a fine. 

They warned this could create complications when enforcing the law and urged the government to run an educational campaign aimed at raising awareness of the new rules. 

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