Marriage laws were originally designed to protect women.
One of the reasons services used to have to be held in public was to ensure that no-one was forced into marriage.
Although that requirement has been relaxed I can’t understand how a 17 year-old was forced into marriage in New Zealand.
The story is no longer on the Stuff website (the link above goes to quotes from it at Kiwiblog). But it said she was tricked into the marriage by her parents which leaves me asking what happened to the protective role of the registrar and celebrant?
Before anyone can marry the law requires a licence:
To get a licence you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage application form. If either of you have been married or in a civil union before, and the marriage or civil union has been dissolved, you may be asked to produce evidence of the dissolution (e.g. Divorce/Dissolution Order) when you give notice to the Registrar. If your previous spouse or partner has died you do not have to produce evidence of their death, but you will have to give the date of death on the Notice of Intended Marriage.
Make a Statutory Declaration
As part of completing the application form for a marriage licence, you need to make a statutory declaration. Either you or your partner will need to make a formal statutory declaration that there is no lawful impediment to the marriage (i.e. no legal reason that you both cannot be married), that the details given are true, that the bride and groom are not within the “prohibited degrees of relationship” and that consent has been given (where relevant).
If you live in New Zealand one of you must make this declaration in the presence of a Registrar of Marriages.
Only one of the two to be married needs to make the statutory declaration and it is possible in this case that it was the groom who did it.
However, the age of the bride ought to have raised concerns.
Even if the registrar didn’t sense anything amiss I can’t understand how the celebrant could have not realised something was wrong.
The law also requires that at some stage in the marriage service both parties say :”I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife/husband” or words to similar effect.
It would be impossible to trick someone into saying anything like that against her will without the celebrant being aware of it. If the young woman did not say those words, or something similar, then the celebrant should not have signed the marriage certificate.
If the celebrant did sign the certificate without the woman saying the required words voluntarily then s/he should be de-registered.