It has recently been reported in the press that a young Asian girl as young as 5 is said to have been forced into a marriage in the UK. How can a marriage take place with a child of 5 years? It cannot strictly be a marriage that follows the law of this country as the age of consent that a person can marry in England and Wales is 16. However it seems in some cultures marriage takes place with minors. In India, the age which one can legally marry is 18 but child brides are sometimes heard of as they are also in Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and other countries. The men the child brides marry can range from 5 to 10 years old to middle aged men.
It is a sad state of affairs that children are being forced to “marry”, and that indeed anyone is forced into a marriage. There is currently a civil remedy in the form of Forced Marriage Protection Orders and the Forced Marriage Unit was set up in 2011 of which it helps deal with about 1,500 cases a year. The Prime Minister has announced that he wants to change the current law and make it a criminal offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to force a person to marry against their will.