by Katy Macfarlane, Senior Lecturer in Child and Family Law, University of Edinburgh.
In Part 1 of this blog, I examined the work of UNICEF and the UNFPA to end the practice of child marriage by 2030. What has this got to do with Scotland? The majority of the consequences of child marriage that are highlighted in Part 1 do not apply in Scotland – do they? We live in a progressive, child-focussed, child-centred society. We care about children and child protection – don’t we? In Scotland, the average age of the parties to a marriage is mid-30s. The average age that a woman in Scotland gives birth is between the ages of 30 and 34.
Scotland can ably demonstrate that, in setting the legal minimum age for marriage and civil partnership at 16, it has complied with the relevant international human rights conventions. For example, Article 2 of the UN Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages (which the UK ratified in 1970) states that, “States Parties […] shall take legislative action to specify a minimum age for marriage […]”.and it goes on to say that, “No marriage shall be legally entered into by a person under this age”.