Close loopholes that allow forced child marriage in the UK

The NSPCC report of increasing calls in relation to forced marriage (Report, 31 July) is alarming. In 2016 more than a quarter of cases dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit involved under-18s. Child marriage is a harmful practice that has severe, lifelong consequences and is a violation of human rights under international law.

Childline and charities like ours provide support for children at risk but are not the whole solution. The increase indicates a need for urgent action and is a damning indictment of the government’s response to child marriage. Despite the criminalisation of forced marriage, loopholes remain. Eighteen is the legal age for marriage in England, Wales and Northern

Ireland but legislation allows marriage of 16- and 17-year-olds with parental consent, which can mean coercion. In Scotland, the minimum age of marriage is 16 and does not require parental consent.

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