Forced marriage is not only a crime, it is a serious breach of human rights. A forced marriage occurs when a person gets married without freely and fully consenting. This may happen because they have been coerced, threatened or deceived, or are incapable of understanding the nature and effect of a marriage ceremony. Forced marriage has severe and lasting impacts, and is severely detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the persons involved.
ACRATH was awarded a Social Justice Small Grant to deliver forced marriage education to schools in WA, Queensland and Victoria. They worked to raise awareness of forced marriage with both male and female students. The presentation informed students about how they could get help if they are concerned that they or their friends may be facing forced marriage.
ACRATH broadened the scope of the project, taking the opportunity to present to community based organisations and health care networks. They discussed how to prevent forced marriage and what the referral pathways are if teachers, health care workers or other community members are concerned about a possible forced marriage in their schools or community.
More than 40 presentations about forced marriage were delivered. Knowledge about forced marriage in the community varied greatly. The presenters reported that at each presentation, they were told about an incidence of forced marriage in the community and at the same time, other participants were not even aware that forced marriage existed or that it was a crime. ACRATH also noted that following these presentations, the Australian Federal Police received a number notifications of forced marriage from the same communities.
The Mercy Foundation continues to support the valuable work of ACRATH in combatting forced marriage.