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Australia: Muslim teenager goes to court to stop forced marriage

Country/Region: Australia

A 16-year-old Muslim girl in Sydney has been placed on an airport watchlist after going to court to prevent her parents sending her to Lebanon for a forced marriage.

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The Federal Magistrates' Court ruled that the parents of the teenager, who cannot be named, could not remove or attempt to remove their daughter from the country to marry her intended husband, whom she has met only once.

Magistrate Joe Harman also ordered that the parents not assault, molest, harass, threaten or otherwise intimidate the girl or take her out of school.

Mr Harman said that the girl's application, to prevent her parents from sending her away for marriage, was becoming increasingly common.

The young person's evidence makes very clear that she has expressed to her parents that she does not want to go to Lebanon and does not want to marry the person proposed, he said.

She has indicated also in her evidence that she is fearful for her personal safety, that she has concerns as to what will occur in relation to her mother's reaction once she becomes aware of these proceedings.

He said that the girl might be thought to have betrayed the authority of her parents by challenging the Lebanese Islamic culture in which she had been raised, and this possibility only made him more convinced of her argument.

He added:

What has occurred is, in fact, an act of great bravery by this young woman in taking the steps this young person has taken in seeking assistance through the Legal Aid Commission.

Mr Harman found that there was a psychological risk to the girl if he did not stop her marriage to a man who was essentially "a stranger".

He said that if she was forced to go through with the union without her consent, it would render the marriage void under Australian law.

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Read News24.com article Teenager goes to court to stop marriage

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  • That this ruling will discourage the increasing tendency for young teenage girls in the West to be forced to marry strangers.
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