Human Rights Council - 26th Regular Session
Panel on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage
23 June 2014
Australia is committed to eliminating child, early and forced marriage, including by protecting and supporting the victims of these crimes.
To send a clear message that forced marriage has no place in Australia, the Australian Parliament amended the Commonwealth Criminal Code in March 2013 to establish new offences of causing a person to enter into a forced marriage and being a party to a forced marriage. The offences carry a maximum penalty of four years’ imprisonment, or seven years’ imprisonment for an aggravated offence, including where the victim is under 18 years of age. Australia also has other legislation relevant to forced marriage, including the Marriage Act 1961 which provides that a marriage may be void if the consent of a party was not real, or if a party was not of marriageable age.
Australia recognises the importance of providing appropriate support and assistance to victims of forced marriage. The Australian Government’s Support for Trafficked People Program provides a comprehensive range of support services for suspected victims of forced marriage identified by the Australian Federal Police. Australia has also developed an “SMS facility” to enable Australians overseas, including victims of forced marriage, to seek consular assistance by SMS text.
The Australian Government is also working in consultation with stakeholders to improve community awareness of forced marriage issues, including by developing a range of awareness raising materials.
Australia is interested in the panel’s views about best-practice, community-led approaches to addressing forced marriage.