This Friday 19th November, MP’s will vote on whether to raise the minimum age that a marriage can be registered in England and Wales to 18 and to make child marriage a crime. The government have confirmed that they are backing the Marriage and Civil Partnership Minimum Age Bill, a private members bill brought by Pauline Latham MP, which will be having it’s second reading.

This is a historic change to outdated law, that has been in place since before the second world war, and crucially would safeguard children from all forms of child marriage (civil and religious) and the lifelong harms that it causes.

IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation lead the Safeguard Futures Ban Child Marriage campaign to achieve this change in the law in collaboration with ourfellow Girls Not Brides UK Co-Chairs with pro-bono support from Naomi Wiseman, Barrister at Garden Court.

Diana Nammi, Executive Director, IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation says:  

“Through our specialist refuge, advice and counselling services, we are seeing first-hand the lifelong harms that child marriage is causing girls in this country. Some of these child marriages get registered, though the vast majority do not, and, in all cases, the moment she is married, often to a much older man, the full weight of the expectations upon her as a wife fall on the child’s young shoulders. Too often girls are failed by the adults that should safeguard them and it’s wrong that onus is on the child to speak out in order to get protection. That’s why IKWRO has tirelessly campaigned for this change in the law that will make it clear that no child should ever face child marriage and that it is the responsibility of safeguarding professionals to ensure this does not happen. Every child must have the opportunity to complete their education, make informed choices about their future and reach their full potential.

Payzee Mahmod, Child Marriage Survivor and IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation Campaigner says:  

“Ending child marriage is deeply personal to me. At the age of 16, I was robbed of my childhood, when I found myself standing in a wedding dress in a garden in London, facing a child marriage to a man twice my age, who I didn’t know. Not long after that, I was taken to a registry office to register my child marriage. I hadn’t chosen to marry him; I was coerced into it. All I wanted was for the adults in my life, who should have safeguarded me, to step in and stop it, but no-one did and ever since I’ve had to live with the lifelong harms that child marriage has caused me. Just a few months before my own child marriage, my sister Banaz who was then 17, had also been coerced into marrying a much older man. Two years later, she was tragically murdered in a so-called “honour” killing for bravely leaving her abusive child marriage. This is why I’ve been campaigning to change the law to make it clear that no child should ever be married and have their childhoods stolen from them like mine was.” 

 – ENDS –

NOTES TO EDITORS

Payzee Mahmod and Diana Nammi are available for interview 

For media enquiries contact Sara Browne at sara.browne@ikwro.org.uk, 07739308398 

Published text of Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-02/0018/210018.pdf

IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation is a leading charity providing specialist support for women and girls of Middle Eastern, North African (MENA) and Afghan origin, who are at risk of “honour” based abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. We run a refuge and provide advice, advocacy, counselling and training and campaign to improve laws and policies. Our mission is to advance MENA and Afghan women’s and girls’ rights, combat discrimination and violence against women and girls, and empower women and girls to access their rights and entitlements in the UK.  

www.ikwro.org.uk @IKWRO  

If you are worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read this safety information.

There is an escape button at the bottom right corner of the page opposite this box. Please test it so you know how it works.