- Abuse of woman, now 25, revealed in court
- Father told her she’d leave marriage ‘in a coffin’
- Wasn’t allowed to go to school or watch TV
- Husband wanted her to become ‘soldier of Islam’
- Hundreds more child brides are living in NSW
A 14-YEAR-OLD girl was forced into an Islamic marriage with a western Sydney drug gang member who raped and beat her and later physically abused their daughter.
Details of the now 25-year old victim’s ordeal surfaced in the Federal Circuit Court where the victim was fighting to have the man banned from seeing their daughter.
So appalling was the woman’s life of abuse, which included claims that her father told her she could only leave her marriage “in a coffin”, that Judge Joseph Harman made an unprecedented public appeal in his judgment for authorities to act.
The story came to light after the Daily Telegraph reported the arrest of a man who had been living with a 12-year-old as his wife in Sydney.
The imam who married the pair, Riaz Tasawar, was yesterday arrested by police.
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“Upon publication of these reasons and should any agency wish to investigate matters … they are in a position to make application to the court for leave to inspect the file and obtain material,” he said.
That would include the child dispute conference memo in which an admission is made by the father in the following terms: “The father admitted that he knew at the time of the Islamic marriage to the mother that she was 14 years of age.”
he memo noted the man said he was 18 at the time, but the victim claimed he was 21.
“The mother alleged that the father had sexually assaulted her after they were married, which the father denied,” said Judge Harman.
It was also alleged the man, who has a string of violence convictions, stopped the victim from attending high school or watching television, and wanted her to become a “soldier of Islam”, forcing her to watch snuff DVDs of people being brutally slaughtered.
When she complained to her parents about the rapes and violence, her father threatened to disown her. “So what if he raped you? So what if he bashed you?” the father said, according to court documents.
“The only way you can come back to me is in a coffin to pray on you.”
The girl also told a teacher at her high school about both her underage marriage and the abuse, but no action was taken.
It is believed no authority has asked to inspect the file since Judge Harman’s appeal, leading to fears both the victim’s family and her “husband” could escape punishment.
TERRIFYING EPIDEMIC OF CHILD BRIDES
Exclusive by Alicia Woods
HUNDREDS of underage teenagers are living in unregistered defacto marriages in NSW â€” and pressure is mounting for state and federal authorities to investigate illegal unions.
The statistics came as NSW Women’s Minister Pru Goward urged anyone with information on girls under the age of consent being married off to older men to report such incidents. In NSW, three children aged 14, 30 children aged 15, 152 aged 16 and 483 aged 17 identified themselves as living in a defacto marriage in the 2011 census.
Adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg warned last night that defacto relationships involving teenage girls were detrimental to their psychological health.
“There’s an increased likelihood of these young people developing anxiety and mood disorders or depression,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these kids become potentially suicidal.”
In metropolitan Sydney, the local government areas with the highest number of unregistered teenage defacto marriages are Blacktown and Penrith, with 23 each, Campbelltown with 17, and Liverpool with 12.
In Blacktown, there were seven 16-year-olds and 16 children aged 17 who identified themselves as living in a defacto marriage.
In Penrith, six 15-year-olds, five 16-year-olds and 12 17-year-olds said they were in a defacto marriage.
In regional areas, the problem is more stark. In Wyong, Wollongong and Dubbo, six 15-year-olds in each local government area said they were in defacto marriages, and all three 14-year-olds who said they were defacto marriages live in Young.
The figures come to light amid intense public outrage at the arrest of a 26-year-old man over child sex allegations after his alleged marriage to a 12-year-old girl.
Eman Sharobeem from the Immigrant Women’s Health Service said hundreds of children as young as 11 were being sent overseas to be married after being “shopped” on Facebook. “It’s far more prevalent and well-known than people think,” she said.
Dr Sharobeem said not enough was being done to build awareness about underage marriage. “Regulation needs to be put in place within different religions,” she said. “If we are talking about Australian law, every marriage should be under Australian law,”
“There needs to be proper, culturally appropriate, education and awareness-raising. And we should make it as compulsory as we can.”
Ms Goward has written to federal counterpart Michaelia Cash to push for national awareness campaigns on underage and forced marriage.
“Every young girl in NSW should have the opportunity to make her own choices about her future, and underage marriage is completely unacceptable,” Ms Goward said.
“It doesn’t matter if the arrangement is religious or cultural, if the law in this state says it is illegal, parents and the community need to accept that and abide by it.
“We can only investigate a case if it is reported, so I encourage anyone aware of girls under the age of consent being married off to older men to report it to authorities so it can be investigated.”
Opposition community services spokeswoman Linda Burney said the government should investigate how widespread underage marriage is.“We seemingly don’t have a picture of how widespread this type of behaviour is,” she said. Ms Burney said
The legal marrying age in Australia is 18 unless a court approves a union where one party is aged between 16 and 18.