At 15 I made the life-changing decision to run away from home, when I realised my parents intended to have me marry a man I had never met. The fate that befell my four older sisters - who were all trapped in volatile marriages - was something I simply could not stomach nor contemplate.
Imkaan, the ethnic minority women's organisation, has issued a plea for all school teachers to be trained to help girls facing
Commonwealth Delivers Equality Boost for one British Family. Are Changes to Laws of Royal Succession Really the Best it Can Do?
For someone who has overseen, and herself encouraged, so much change since the birth of the modern Commonwealth sixty years ago, I'd put money on the fact that, privately, The Queen is backing reform. And not just reform designed to boost the leadership chances of her future great-granddaughter.
The Commonwealth stands on the brink of change. Put simply, the 54 leaders of the Commonwealth gathering in Perth, Australia, this weekend will decide the association's fate, at least for the next decade.
Coaxed and coerced, every year early and forced marriage directly affects 10 million girls under the age of 18. This is the equivalent of a girl becoming a child bride every three seconds.
The Commonwealth can be a powerful actor for real global change, but not unless it can get its own house in order. Faced with a plummeting profile, increased competition from other international and regional bodies and fast-diminishing resources, now is surely the time.