Savera UK welcomes the news that the minimum age of marriage will be raised from 16 to 18 in England and Wales.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill, introduced to UK Parliament by MP Pauline Latham OBE, has passed through Parliament and today received Royal Assent, meaning it has become law.
Savera UK ambassador and forced marriage survivor, Payzee Mahmod, has been instrumental in bringing the law to Parliament by tirelessly campaigning alongside organisations including IKWRO.
Payzee’s sister, Banaz, was forced into marriage when she was aged 16. Banaz was the victim of an ‘honour’-killing after ending the violent and abusive marriage.
Ahead of the Bill passing its third reading, Payzee wrote: “Struggling to put in to words what this means. I feel so many emotions. This is real life change.
“This is for me, for Banaz, for any child impacted by child marriage.
“Today tears of joy roll down my face because I know what this means for girls like me.”
Under the new law children will not be penalised, but adults found to be facilitating the marriage could face up to a seven year jail sentence and a fine.
The law will also apply to marriages which are not registered with the local council.
Savera UK CEO, Afrah Qassim, said: “We cannot thank our incredible ambassador Payzee enough for her tireless efforts to see this Bill brought to Parliament.
“This law has the potential to change the lives of thousands of girls for the better and it’s encouraging to see the impact one campaign can have on an entire country.
“At Savera UK, we continue to provide support for those at risk of, and survivors of, forced and child marriage, so this law will have a very real impact on our work.
“We continue to encourage young girls to talk to someone if they fear they are at risk of forced marriage.”
If you are affected by forced marriage, ‘honour’-based abuse or other harmful practices, you can call the Savera UK helpline on 0800 107 0726 (weekdays 9am – 5pm).