Further to my previous blog “Forced Marriages, Yes It Happens Here” on 2 April 2012, in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 May 2012 Richard Willingham reports that the Attorney General, Nicola Roxon has introduced laws that criminalise forced marriage in addition to forced labour and organ trafficking.
The article states that people found guilty of forced marriage will face up to seven years jail.
In relation to the laws, Attorney- General Ms Roxon says “Forced marriage and forced labour have no place in a modern and democratic nation like Australia.” Further the article reports “Ms Roxon says that forced marriage deprives people of education, freedom of movement and autonomy and was emotional and physical abuse.”
“Young people may be coerced, threatened or deceived into consenting to marriage. Under these new laws this type of behaviour will be outlawed,” the Attorney- General says, in explaining the new laws.
As discussed in my previous blog although I am of the view that forced marriage is not simply a legal issue but also one of education, I also think that some harsher criminal sanctions are needed to provide the message that forced marriage is not acceptable.
If you believe you may be forced into a marriage against your will you can get help by calling the Australian Federal Police on 000, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Child Protection Helpline on 13 21 11.