WalesOnline readers reacted to the new law raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 in Wales and England. As of Monday, 16- and 17-year-olds can no longer marry or form civil unions, even with parental consent, to better protect children from forced marriage. The decision was hailed as “a huge victory for survivors”.

Changes to the Marriage and Civil Union (Minimum Age) Act mean that it is now an offense to exploit vulnerable children by arranging their marriage under any circumstances, with or without the use of force. The law will cover non-legally binding “traditional” ceremonies that parties and their families will continue to treat as weddings, the UK government said.

The new legislation has been described as a “major step forward” in the fight against the “hidden abuse” of forced marriage. Natasha Rattu, director of the charity Karma Nirvana, which is a member of the Girls Not Brides coalition, said she hoped such cases would be better identified and reported.

While many readers shared success stories of getting married at age 16 or 17 and staying married decades later, most supported the new law as a means to protect young people from exploitation.

Linda Bowden said: “My husband and I were married when we were 16. in 1963. We have four wonderful daughters. Eight wonderful grandchildren and six wonderful great-grandchildren and they all told us it would never last. Well this is our 60th anniversary this year.”

Veronique Boundford said, “If I had a choice now, I wouldn’t have gotten married before I was 30 and I’d know more about life, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen the person I would marry.” Maggie Lewis said: “I had a few people I was ‘madly in love with’ when I was younger. I’m glad I didn’t hook up with them, let alone marry them.

Patricia Cooper said: “I was 16 and he was 17 and we were still together after 62 years. Don’t regret a single day. But I still think it’s a good idea to wait because there are so many different workloads these days. ” Jackie Smart said: “I was married to my husband for 21 years when I was 17. We were married for 44 wonderfully happy years until he sadly passed away. We had three daughters and five grandchildren.

Gill Goffannon said: “In the past, children left school at 15 and went to work, but today children are in school until they are 18. It also protects girls from unwanted marriages, often to much older men. I’m for it because it protects girls and it’s modern.” Beverley Rhys-Davies said: “We were 17 and 18 when we got married in 1978 and we haven’t regretted a single day with my beloved husband. 45 years with my partner in July”.

Janner Herd said: “Since we live so much longer now, it’s good to wait to get married. But I know people who got married at 16 and lived very happily. They are usually in no hurry to get married now. If it saves some of the forced marriages, that’s good.” Gemma Barron said, “You don’t legally come of age and you’re not judged as an adult until you’re 18, so you’re officially a child at 16, look at it that way, it’s a child getting married. “It’s a good decision for the first time.”

Annette Rae said: “I don’t agree with that, when I was young, many people were married before the age of 18 and were very successful. Today, people are treated like children for a long time. Sometimes children are kept in school against their will, when they are not going to achieve anything in education and the workplace no longer teaches them useful skills that they can use to earn a living, at the same time it politicizes them and they are encouraged to go. acceptance of life-changing decisions.”

Rachel Pitman said: “It’s nice to hear about all the extended marriages from a young age, but it’s to protect some vulnerable children. I’m sure if they’re really committed to each other, a few more years won’t change anything.” Sue Derrick said: “Still too young in my opinion. We think we know everything at this age, but we really don’t know anything about life and its ups and downs.

Source: Wales Online