The legal age for marriage differs from country to country. In the UK, this age is 18. With parental and participant consent combined, this can go as low as 16.
Yet the number of cases that see marriages take place without participant consent is alarmingly high; and among South Asian communities in Britain, forced marriages (FM) are particularly common. The global statistics for underage or child marriages are overwhelming. 100 million girls under 18 will be married off within the next decade. There are currently 51 million girls between the age of 15 and 19 that are married worldwide.
In the UK, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU; part of the Home Office) dealt with 1,302 cases related to FM between January and December 2013. Women are at higher risk of being forced into marriage at 82 per cent, however there is a significant number (18 per cent) which also see men being victims, and interestingly, forced marriages are not limited to the young either.