NSW: Report on Forced Marriage

Religions for Peace NSW

At the December meeting of Religions for Peace NSW Branch, Associate Professor Jennifer Burn gave a talk on forced marriage in Australia.

Jennifer Burn teaches in Administrative Law as well as specialist electives associated with citizenship, immigration and social justice issues at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Since 2003 Jennifer has been Director of Anti-Slavery Australia. Anti-Slavery Australia is dedicated to eliminating all forms of trafficking and slavery through direct service and advocacy programs. Anti-Slavery Australia provides legal advice and representation to people who have experienced trafficking and slavery and advocates for changes to laws and policies to improve the protection of the rights of people who have been trafficked. As part of the legal practice work of Anti-Slavery Australia lawyers have direct experience of the impact of trafficking and slavery on trafficked people and have been able to use that knowledge to advocate for better legal and human rights practices and protections. Anti-Slavery Australia’s focus has been to review the operation of immigration law, particularly the trafficking visa framework and associated social support administered by the Office for Women and the operation of the criminal law.

In addressing the Religions for Peace NSW meeting, Professor Burn remarked that forced marriage is an emerging issue. Forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of one or both parties to the union. However, the real extent of the problem is largely unknown.

“Often, young women may be particularly vulnerable to forced marriage. There have been a number of reported cases whereby Australian citizen girls were subjected to forced marriage outside Australia,” remarked Professor Burn.

“Despite the gravity of the issue, forced marriage is under-reported and under researched here in Australia. At the moment, there are just no reliable estimates of the prevalence of forced marriage and this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed,” she continued.

Religions for Peace NSW Branch Meeting, December 2013
Associate Professor Jennifer Burn is second left, back row