Protecting young people from forced marriages is the intention of Dr Jackie Blue’s Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill.
“The majority are probably quite legitimate, but the majority of those minors are young girls. I can’t not do anything. If it saves one young girl it’s going to be worth it.”
No data existed on how many people have been forced to marry as affected women were often hidden from the glare of social services.
But while researching the issue Dr Blue heard of a recent incident in which a school girl approached a social worker after being forced into an engagement. . .
By forcing teenagers to seek the court’s permission to marry, Dr Blue said it would take parental coercion out of the equation.
“It’s not going to stop people from dragging their sons and daughters off shore to get married. We can’t stop that, but it’s another hurdle.” . . .
This Bill won’t stop young people marrying of their own free will but it will make it more difficult to force them into marriage.
It is unlikely to affect many people but it is still worth doing.
Forced marriages are more common in other countries. This Bill, if enacted, will send a strong signal that they will not be condoned here.