A forced marriage is where a marriage is entered into without the full and free consent of one or both parties, as a result of threats, deception or coercion.
In Australia, forced marriage is a crime under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.
Section 270.7B of the Commonwealth Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence to:
- Cause a person to enter into a forced marriage; or
- Be a party to a forced marriage, where you know your spouse is the victim of a forced marriage.
A forced marriage can happen to any person of any gender or sex, but it predominantly happens to young women, and girls. Forced marriage is a slavery-like practice and a violation of human rights.
Sometimes it can be hard to know if a person has been coerced. Coercion might be subtle, like making someone feel like they have a duty to their family to get married to a certain person.
Forced marriage can be linked to trafficking and exploitation. It also covers the child marriage, since children cannot legally consent to being married.
The Attorney-General’s Department website has a forced marriage community pack available, with information translated into a number of languages. You can access this here.
If you think someone is in a forced marriage, or in immediate danger of forced marriage, call the Australian Federal Police on 131 237.