Arranged marriages are not events that are common in Australia, particularly underage ones. Uncommon does not mean that there are not those who do not try. A recent case has seen the Family Court of Victoria become involved. The Court has required the family to hand over the young girl's passport and issued an order prohibiting her removal from Australia until she is 18, and placed her on a Federal Police "watch list".
The family is originally from Macedonia and the 14-year-old has been engaged to a 17-year-old Macedonian youth. The only contact the girl and her prospective husband have had is a photograph that she was allegedly shown of him. The marriage plan was only uncovered recently when the girl stopped attending school and the Child Protection division of Victoria's Department of Human Services became involved in the case.
This may have been a touch of good luck on the part of the Human Services people because at the interview to find out why the girl was not going to school, she said that her father did not approve of her going to school and that it really did not seem to matter as she would soon be heading overseas to get married anyway.
This is where it becomes really interesting, the girl also added at interview that she was not pushed or forced into this arranged marriage. In fact, she stated that her parents said she could back out if it turned out that she did not like the prospective spouse after meeting him.
Nevertheless, in the infinite wisdom that is contained in a number of affidavits that the girl did not understand the concept of marriage or the likelihood of sexual intercourse with her prospective spouse. Furthermore, it was suggested that a marriage at this age would deprive her of good educational prospects.
It is hard to fathom, to work out, why in the 21st Century there is still a belief that it is wise to marry off pre-teen and teenage girls to men that they have never met in countries they may never have been too. I am all for promoting cultural diversity and the maintenance of cultural traditions.
However, in this case, I am also very much pro the idea of protecting those that are most vulnerable. And, our children are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. We, therefore, must ensure that we protect them to the best of our abilities. There is not a good reason that I can see why an arranged marriage of a 14-year-old is necessary. But, that's just me.