Statutes Amendment (Child Marriage) Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 24 March 2016.)

Ms SANDERSON ( Adelaide ) ( 11:13 :55 ): I rise to first express my disappointment that the government will not be supporting this bill. I think it is a very important piece of legislation. Whilst the government obviously agrees in principle, as the member for Fisher indicated, on the evidence I think we need to do something further. There have been recent television shows and exposés on this very important ongoing issue, and I will just read some of the information.

There is a federal law, and the criminalisation of forced marriage came into effect in 2013. Since forced marriage was criminalised in March 2013, the Australian Federal Police have received over 100 referrals of forced marriage. Eleven of those were in the 2013-14 financial year, 33 in the 2014-15 financial year and 69 within the 2015-16 year, so education is not stopping this issue. It is ongoing and it is increasing.

The Australian Federal Police have investigated 20 matters of suspected forced marriage in Australia from January 1 to September 30 this year: eight were in New South Wales, seven in Victoria, four in Queensland and one in South Australia. Eleven of these investigations involved persons under the age of 18. 'No charges or convictions have been recorded out of these investigations at this time,' an AFP spokesperson said. They continued:

Forced marriage matters can be particularly challenging to investigate and prosecute for a number of reasons. Investigations are lengthy and complex, prosecutions rely heavily on victim testimon y , but victims and witnesses can be reluctant to give evidence due to fear of reprisal s and shame and the clandestine nature of the crime type results in apprehension by witnesses and victims in making initial contact with authorities.

There do not appear to be any statistics released by SA Child Protection Services or SAPOL regarding child brides, although services in New South Wales have recently released a shame file of some of the cases of child marriage that are very confronting and possibly worthy of noting. In the shame file, some of the cases that have been reported by teachers, principals, counsellors, medical staff, police and social agencies in New South Wales between July 2014 and April 2016 include:

a nine year old disclosed that she was returning to Afghanistan and the reporter had concerns she would be forced to marry;

a nine year old being forced by a mother to return to Pakistan to get married;

a 10-year-old Indonesian girl who feared under-age marriage and female genital mutilation;

a 12-year-old girl told she would have to marry her father's cousin when she turns 13;

a 13-year-old Indonesian girl's parents were arranging marriage to a cousin;

a 14 year old was travelling to Lebanon to marry an older male friend;

a 14 year old of Lebanese background promised to a cousin in Lebanon;

a 15-year-old Lebanese girl forced by her parents to marry a cousin when she turns 18;

a 14-year-old Pakistani girl told of sexual abuse and threats of marriage;

a 14 year old girl was self-harming because her father had arranged for her to be married;

a 16 year old disclosed that she married the father of her unborn child in an Islamic ceremony;

a 16-year-old Iraqi girl disclosed physical abuse by the father who had arranged a forced marriage;

a Turkish 16 year old disclosed that her family was arranging for her to marry a cousin in Turkey;

a Lebanese 16 year old to be married under Sharia law; and

a 17-year-old girl disclosed that she was married under Sharia law.

The AFP encourages victims of human trafficking, or those who have information regarding human trafficking, to contact the AFP. Although it was criminalised in 2013, this is still a huge issue and, just as we amended the Children's Protection Act in relation to genital mutilation, I think it is still extremely important that we do all we can to stop this happening in our state.

The bill that I am proposing would prevent a party or parties from taking a child from our state. The child's passport would be held and, if appropriate, examination or interview of the child. As we have heard from the AFP, in order to prove the case, it is extremely difficult. We need an instant and immediate measure that will protect our children. Whilst the education of communities here and overseas goes on, more must be done, and I compel the people in this house to please support this bill.

The house divided on the second reading:





Bell, T.S.

Chapman, V.A.

Duluk, S.

Gardner, J.A.W.

Griffiths, S.P.

Knoll, S.K.

McFetridge, D.

Pederick, A.S.

Pengilly, M.R.

Sanderson, R. (teller)

Speirs, D.

Tarzia, V.A.

Treloar, P.A.

van Holst Pellekaan, D.C.

Whetstone, T.J.




Bedford, F.E.

Bignell, L.W.K.

Brock, G.G.

Caica, P.

Close, S.E.

Cook, N.F.

Gee, J.P.

Hamilton-Smith, M.L.J.

Hughes, E.J.

Kenyon, T.R. (teller)

Key, S.W.

Koutsantonis, A.

Piccolo, A.

Picton, C.J.

Rankine, J.M.

Rau, J.R.

Snelling, J.J.

Vlahos, L.A.

Wortley, D.




Goldsworthy, R.M.

Digance, A.F.C.

Marshall, S.S.

Hildyard, K.

Pisoni, D.G.

Bettison, Z.L.

Redmond, I.M.

Weatherill, J.W.

Williams, M.R.

Odenwalder, L.K.

Wingard, C.

Mullighan, S.C.



Second reading thus negatived.