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Girls at risk of child marriage as half of local authorities fail to keep records

Girls at risk of child marriage are falling under the radar of authorities in England and Wales because of a lack of record-keeping by more than half of the departments responsible for children’s social care, a charity has warned.

IKWRO women’s rights organisationsays it is preparing for a spike in cases following the easing of lockdown and is urging social workers to be ready to respond.

It has written to local authorities amid concerns that some social workers were not fully trained or aware of the complexities around “honour”-based abuse including child marriage.

Responses collected under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that between 2018 and 2019, the latest data available, there were 165 children in England and Wales at risk of child marriage.

Yet 56% of departments responsible for children’s social care in the two countries were found not recording how many minors were at risk of child marriage.

During the same period 280 children in England and Wales, including 117 looked-after children, were identified by those departments that were collecting data as at risk of “honour”-based abuse. Yet 66 local authorities out of those questioned said they had no process for recording those at risk.

IKWRO says it is vital authorities record every potential case of these complex crimes to understand and respond to their prevalence on a national scale.

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