Sajid Javid: 'Child marriage is child abuse'

The former Home Secretary joined Colin Brazier and Mercy Muroki to speak about raising the legal minimum age to get married in England and Wales to 18.

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Sajid Javid said child marriage is "child abuse" on GB News, and is seeking to raise the legal minimum age to get married in England and Wales to 18.

Speaking to GB News presenters, Colin Brazier and Mercy Muroki, Mr Javid said “when I bring this up with people, they think it’s awful and something that happens in developing countries, but actually it’s happening right here in our own country. And the outcomes for these children is absolutely awful.”

In England and Wales, children can get married from the age of 16, so long as they have parental consent. Mr Javid pointed our that “we don’t let them even get tattoos until their 18," but the law allows them to get married.

The former Home Secretary said he will be introducing a private member’s Bill next week to protect vulnerable teenagers from religious and cultural pressures to marry too young. Mr Javid, who is of Pakistani heritage, said he had seen examples of the practice in his own community when growing up.

“I’ll never forget the sight of a 16 year old girl, when I was barely an adult myself, to a 30 year old man. The reason it was happening, she was a British girl married to a man in Pakistan that she’d never met, and her parents wanted to get a visa for him so he could come and work as cheap labour for the family business. . . . This still goes on and it’s coerced marriage just as much as forced marriage.”

Mr Javid said the consequences of child marriages are severe: "All the evidence shows that a child getting married has a much worse outcome in terms of education, employment opportunities, they very often become the victims of domestic and sexual abuse, they’re socially isolated including from their peers - there’s nothing good about it at all.”