Forced to wed at 14, woman walks out after years of abuse from violent husband

by Michelle McDermott on March 27, 2014

Michelle McDermott

In a rare insight into arranged or forced unions in suburban Australia, a couple of months back the Federal Circuit Court determined arrangements for a 6 year old girl. Using some of the strongest language this writer has read in a Judgment, Judge Joe Harman described the little girl’s father (known by the pseudonym ‘Mr Essey’) as “a most heinous, capricious and revolting misogynist”. No guesses, then, what His Honour really thought!!

The girls’s mother (known by the pseudonym ‘Ms Elia’), was forced to wed illegally at just 14 years of age with, what Judge Harman found to be “the full knowledge, if not connivance and co-operation, of her parents”. She was then subjected to years of abuse from Mr Essey. Ms Elia was kicked, punched, stamped on and thrown into walls. The parties’ daughter was also attacked. Whilst still a child, Ms Elia was locked in Mr Essey’s outer-Sydney home and let out only to attend High School. Mr Essey used to burn her homework and made Ms Elia drop out of school after only a year.

What is particularly disturbing about this case is that Ms Elia’s parents felt no remorse in marrying off their daughter to such a violent individual. Ms Elia gave evidence that she had stopped speaking to her parents following her divorce. Her evidence, which was accepted, was that her father told her “so what if he raped you? So what if he bashed you?” He also said “The only way you can come back to me is in a coffin to pray on you”. What a charming example of parental love – not!!

Quite rightly, His Honour made Orders that the little girl live with her mother and that the father have no parental responsibility or contact with her at all. In what is one of my favourite lines of the Judgement, His Honour said, “The manner in which the Father has treated the Mother when she was, herself, a child is, perhaps, the best evidence one can have as to the attitude the Father demonstrates towards his responsibilities as an adult, let alone a parent, towards children, let alone his capacity to respond to a child appropriately, compassionately, empathetically or on any level that would suggest humanity.” Hear, Hear!

I love a happy ending to any story and am pleased to report that Ms Elia has re-married and has another child. Judge Harman paid tribute to her inner strength for coming out the other end of such a horrific ordeal with her capacity to parent her daughter well intact.

This writer wishes Ms Elia and her family all the happiness in the world for the future.

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