By LE Desk

London, May 4: A legal loophole that allows 16- and 17-year-olds in England and Wales to marry with parental consent is being exploited and used to coerce young people into child marriage, campaigners have warned.

More than 20 organisations have signed a letter to the prime minister insisting current forced marriage law does not go far enough in protecting young people, the Guardian reported.

Furthermore, there is no legal provision across the UK to prevent religious or customary child marriages from taking place – at any age, the newspaper said.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, four co-chairs of the Girls Not Brides UK partnership wrote: “Child marriage is often viewed as a ‘developing world issue’ and one that exclusively takes place overseas. The reality is that child marriage is an invisible but thriving issue in the UK today.”

They include Diana Nammi, founder of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, who told the Guardian: “Too often under the current inadequate law we see failures by safeguarding professionals and the consequences of child marriage, which disproportionately affect a greater number of girls, usually married to older men.

The impacts include reduced education and employment opportunities, an increase in mental health problems and a higher incidence of domestic violence.”

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