Why focus on forced and servile marriage?
The passage on 27 February 2013 of the Federal Government’s Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Act 2012 marks the culmination of a substantial process of community engagement and legislative development over recent years.
As part of the preceding consultative process, Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth & Family Services prepared a submission on behalf of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand. Click here to download the GSANZ Response to Exposure Draft Crimes Legislation Amendment 120112
The research required to prepare this submission highlighted the potential for serious human rights violations of concern to Australia, where a person may be forced into marriage or treated as property and delivered into a servile marriage. There is a significant lack of information available about how, and how much, these issues impact Australia and Australians.
Noting that there are less than 200 countries in the membership of the United Nations, research to date shows that there is a non-trivial issue in approaching 150 countries around the world (both developing and developed, and without regard to cultural, religious, ethnic and national boundaries).
As documented by the United Nations and others, forced marriage can lead to a lifetime of harm and ongoing violation of human rights.
Early or child marriage, that of a person under 18 years of age, is taken as forced marriage in recognition of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child making 18 an almost universally agreed age at which a child becomes an adult under the law. At law, a child lacks the capacity to consent to marriage, thus making child marriage also forced marriage.
In the mission of Rosemount Good Shepherd, this is of particular concern, and accordingly, in addition to our research collaboration with Anti-Slavery Australia, Rosemount is partnering with other organisations (such as the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre at the University of New South Wales) to better understand and respond to forced child marriage.
Growing out of the report Hidden Exploitation: Women in forced labour, marriage and migration (released in April 2012 – read the report here), the Good Shepherd Network and Anti-Slavery Australia at the University of Technology, Sydney are collaborating to research forced and servile marriage in Australia.
A key outcome of this evidence review was confirmation of the dearth of information available about how and how much forced and/or servile marriage impact Australia and Australians.
An initial community forum was held in Sydney in September 2012 as part of our ongoing research collaboration, and follow on advocacy and education is being supported through a newsletter-style update on forced and servile marriage in Australia issued each 4-6 weeks.
Please contact the project team if you would like to suggest a topic to be covered in the update.
You can subscribe to our update here to receive future editions and read about both our research and other developments in relation to forced and servile marriage in Australia.
Please feel free to access and share past editions of the update: