Child Marriage in the United Kingdom: Representation in policies and debate

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Maiju Tellervo Tikkanen
4. semester, Udviklingsstudier, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
Child marriage is a human rights violation that is directly linked to poverty and inequality. Although, child marriage occurs most frequently in developing countries, it takes place to some extent in developed countries as well. In Europe, child marriages have mostly occurred within different religious and ethnic communities in different countries and the overall child marriage numbers are low. However, in the UK child marriage has gained attention in media and in political debate during the past two decades and the government has taken action to end child marriage domestically and globally. These actions include legislation against forced marriage, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) for raising awareness and helping the victims and political debate on raising the minimum marriage age to 18 without exceptions.

This study analyses these different policies for preventing child marriage and the debate on marriage age to answer how child marriage is problematized in the UK and how these policies and debate represent the best interest of a child. Policies are analyzed through Carol Bacchi’s ”What is the problem represented to be?” approach and the debate trough Norman Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis tools. These both are structured within a case study. The perspective to the issue is the best interest of a child principle, which is approached from Susan White’s perspective on universalization of laws concerning children. Both in policies and debate, child marriage is discussed in relation to four different themes which are forced marriage, the age of consent, culture and consequences. Child marriage is problematized as a form of forced marriage both in policies and debate, but the parental consent clause allowing marriages for 16 and 17 year olds is presented as an exception to this, especially in the debate where it is defended. However, this clause is also attacked as being misused to force older children to marry. The consequences of child marriage are presented to emphasize how the best interests of a child are violated. Child marriage is represented to be a problem of certain ethnic communities throughout the policies and debates. Certain children are presented to be in a risk of a forced child marriage and facing the consequences that violate their best interests. Therefore, the problem is represented to be a problem of certain ethnic communities instead of the majority, but significant enough for majority to take action.
SpecialiseringsretningGlobal Refugee Studies
Udgivelsesdato29 maj 2018
Antal sider62
ID: 280066948