Without consent: Forced marriage in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Melbourne University Law Review, 2013, 36 (3), pp. 970 - 1008
Issue Date:
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This article explores Australia's response to the emerging issue of forced marriage. In light of community and government responses to forced marriage, we review the challenges involved in defining forced marriage and the degree to which the practice overlaps with other forms of exploitative conduct such as servitude and slavery. While we welcome the reform of existing criminal laws to fully reflect Australia's international obligations to prohibit 'practices similar to slavery', we caution against prioritising prosecutions over preventative and protective strategies. We argue that the creation of specific criminal offences of forced marriage should be accompanied by the introduction of new, family law-based civil remedies for people seeking to avoid or escape forced marriage, and targeted support services for people in, or facing, forced marriage. These measures should be accompanied by investment in community legal education and consultation in order to deepen the community's understanding of forced marriage in Australia.
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