Since criminalisation of forced marriage in Australia in 2013, there has been little further research and policy development on the issue. While criminalisation generated awareness and avenues for reporting and/or referrals, limited qualitative and quantitative data means the experience of forced marriage in Australia is not comprehensively understood. This report aims to synthesis the relevant data and theoretical frameworks to develop a conceptual structure on which to base further research. The methodology of a literature review enables analysis between government, community and academic reports to highlight similarities and differences in approaches and standpoints to ensure critical reflection of evidence and practices. The limited research from and with ethnic community groups on forced marriage illustrates a research gap which may be addressed with the help of this report.
Beginning with a critical analysis of the definition of forced marriage, the report then illustrates the difficulties in ensuring consent and the spectrum between forced and arranged marriage. The report outlines the limited data on forced marriage and the intersection of reasons preventing people reporting or engaging authorities. Evidence suggests the need to change the way Australia approaches forced marriage in both research and responses, and to move away from a definition and referral process rooted in the criminal justice paradigm (Vidal 2016 p. 5).
The risks and indicators of forced marriage outline how the issue is an intersection of highly complex dynamics of family, culture, politics, tradition, social pressure, socio-economic status, migration and other factors. There is not one ‘stereotypical’ image of forced marriage and there are many settings that undermine a person’s autonomy in choosing their marriage partner. Reflecting this, Australia needs a broader and more nuanced response to the issue.
The theoretical approaches and responses outlined in this report illustrate the need for approaches, both in research and policy, that address the underlying causes of forced marriage. Forced marriage is not a legal problem to be rectified but a product of deep-rooted inter-sectional experiences. Forced marriage can only be addressed through a combination of responses from criminal, civil and wider cultural changes.
SOURCE: FECCA. “Forced marriage in Australia: A literature review.” Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, 2019.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia