To the amazement and dismay of many there are 50 cases of forced marriages each year in Australia.
The Australian government is now implementing legislation to make this offence a crime, as many other nations have already done.
Avenues within the Australian law have enabled them to prosecute the instigators of marriage that are forced, slavery, and people who have trafficking offences within the criminal code. This list includes the matter of consent for getting married under Australia’s Marriage Act, to a certain degree. Not all issues fall under this category, the alteration of the legislation is to include the circumstance that the consent to marriage was given under direst.
Any individuals with knowledge that the ceremony was performed under the duress of an involved party member will be charged under this act. The individuals who would fall into this offence include, extended family members, and religious officials with the knowledge, even if the ceremony was performed outside of Australia when an Australian citizen is involved.
To ensure spousal visas, many of these forced marriages are performed outside of the Australian borders. This is so when the Australian citizen returns back home; their new mates will have a valid visa.
The new legislation is facing criticism because the majority of individuals involved in forced marriage have large family involvement. When it comes to these victims, the reporting level is lowered, for fear of speaking out against the family and the isolation that would accompany it.
Implementation of this legislation is already in place for many countries, and it is even considered to be illegal to attempt a forced marriage when living in Belgium. The Forced Marriage Protection Order that the UK introduced can be found within the UK Family Law Act. This is known as a civil solution, unlike the criminal offence that Australia will be implementing. The reasoning behind the UK’s decision to make it a civil matter, not a criminal offence is for the victim to be able to report it without the stress of reporting their family members. This will ideally help more victims be able to come forward.
Men also fall into these situations. When a man is forced into a marriage, he will often become abusive towards his wife.
While this legislation covers a wide range of the problem, it has been asked that it be expanded even more. The suggested expansion is to cover woman that have been “deceptively recruited” into marriages that are servile marriage, where she becomes a slave to her husband.
With heightened awareness of this issue within the media, it will hopefully rush this legislation. The bill has been drafted but has yet to be introduced to parliament.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.