On 28 April 2022, both the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill and the Health and Care Bill gained Royal Assent, between them introducing historic changes in law to ban three harmful practices; child marriage, virginity testing and hymenoplasty.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill, changes law which had been in place since before the second world-war. It will make eighteen the minimum age for marriage, with no exceptions, and ban all forms of child marriage (registered and non-registered) in England and Wales, including where the marriage is planned to take place outside of the UK. The Health and Care Bill introduces a ban of virginity testing and hymenoplasty, across the UK.

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

“This is a landmark moment in the movement to end harmful practices and “honour” based abuse. Inspired by the women and girls we represent and knowing the lifelong harms that child marriage, virginity testing and hymenoplasty cause, IKWRO has campaigned tirelessly over a decade to achieve this historic progress. I am so proud that our Safeguard Futures Ban Child Marriage campaign and Virginity Does Not Define Me campaign, which have been supported by so many inspring survivors and experts, have achieved these changes to the law, which will literally be life changing and life saving for so many. I want to thank everyone who has worked collectively with us and made this change possible. We still have a lot of work to do. We call on the government to ensure that all safeguarding professionals are trained on the new laws and that all children are educated on their right not to face child marriage, virginity testing or hymenoplasty. We must also see sustained funding for specialist organisations like IKWRO to support any woman or girl at risk.

Payzee Mahmod, IKWRO Campaigner and child marriage survivor says;

When I first spoke out about my child marriage, I had no idea of the impact it would have on changing law that dates back almost 100 years. I am absolutely thrilled that sharing my own experience has helped gain public support and convince decision makers that child marriage must be banned . I’m so emotional to finally see the Bills to ban child marriage, virginity testing and hymenoplasty get Royal Assent. I have given everything I have to these campaigns and I am so proud to have worked alongside my colleagues to win them. Today is a remarkable day, a day that will go down in history. Women’s and girls’ safety, happiness and opportunities will be forever changed because of these new laws.”

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