By Sarah Ferguson and Deb Masters
AUSTRALIA–What happens when young, educated, Australian-born girls are forced into unwanted marriages – often with relatives overseas?
Samia was just seventeen when her father announced he was taking her on a holiday overseas. But this was a holiday with a difference. Back in the family’s village in rural Pakistan, Samia watched in horror as the local Imam walked in ready to conduct her marriage to her first cousin – without her consent. With pressure from her extended family, she was given papers to sign and threatened.
Returning to Australia, Samia sought help from local religious authorities in Sydney – but they ignored her and told her to accept the marriage.
For the first time young women, the victims of forced marriages, are speaking out – without disguise and despite the risks of backlash from their communities. Are these women entitled to the same protection as other Australian girls?
The Government thinks so; in fact they are so concerned they are introducing criminal legislation to ban forced marriage. However, outspoken members of Australian migrant communities say it is their responsibility to stop the practice and the men who enforce it.
It’s not only women who experience force or coercion to push them into marriage. It happens to men too, often with disastrous consequences. Reporter Sarah Ferguson tells the story of one young woman who agrees to marry a man chosen by her family. What she doesn’t know until after the marriage is that he married her under duress. The relationship then descends into a spiral of alcohol and violence. (Source)
You can watch the news special “Without Consent” here.
Require more convincing?