ACRATH combats forced marriage in Australia
Samin was 20 when she discovered her parents intended sending her out of Australia to marry in another country. She had been promised to a relative. Samin did not want to leave Australia to marry a stranger. She made contact with an agency and disclosed the imminent marriage. The person she spoke to had participated in an extended training session, presented by ACRATH in the past year. Samin was supported as the worker followed the referral pathway. The marriage was stopped. Samin continues to receive support.
Today, the marriage of an Australian girl, or woman, is being planned. She might be a schoolgirl, or a woman over 18, but either way she won’t know about the marriage until it is imminent. She will not have a say in the marriage.
Each year in Australia girls are forced to marry. The exact numbers are unknown because very few girls report a forced marriage. But Australian Federal Police (AFP) has investigated 174 cases of forced marriage since forced marriage was made illegal in Australia in 2013.
That’s the chilling reality of forced marriage in Australia and around the world. ACRATH is working to combat all forms of human trafficking, including forced marriage.
ACRATH is working to stop forced marriage
- In the past 18 months ACRATH has presented at 19 training sessions around the country. These sessions have trained 956 front-line responders.
- ACRATH works with staff and students from Catholic, Independent and Government schools to ensure young women at risk of forced marriage know they have an option and teachers know where to go for help.
- The prevention education is based on the ACRATH resource kit, My Rights – My Future forced marriage. The learning material has been developed with nine pilot schools, and numerous government and non-government organisations as part of an Australian forced marriage pilot project in 2015, funded by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department.
- ACRATH has helped secure federal funding for support for young women escaping a forced marriage.
- ACRATH is working with the federal government to ensure young people, especially young women like Samin, can access their right to marry if, whom and when they choose.
- ACRATH is training priests and marriage celebrants across Australia to help them recognise a forced marriage.
ACRATH’s forced marriage work across Australia costs about $86,000 a year. While the grants and donations to date have made it possible to cover more schools and communities, we need your support to ensure this program can continue to expand. ACRATH launched its national fund-raising appeal this month (June) in a bid to raise $400,000 to continue its work fighting human trafficking and modern slavery.
ACRATH’s work to combat forced marriage is not done in isolation. We work closely with other agencies, including Australian Federal Police and Anti-Slavery Australia to run training workshops. One example is in Perth where this year key organisations including ACRATH, worked towards developing a statewide network and collaborative approach to combating forced marriage.
The 19 forced marriage training sessions around the country involved working with front-line responders including, police, family violence agencies, schools, child protection workers community groups, clergy and forced marriage experts – the people most likely to hear of a forced marriage or receive a ‘disclosure’ by a woman who is at risk of forced marriage or who has been forced to marry. These people are now trained in the correct referral pathway if they receive a disclosure relating to a forced marriage.
Major organisations support ACRATH
ACRATH is fortunate to have some key funding partners in the area of forced marriage. A three-year grant from Mary Ward International Australia (MWIA) in 2019 to ACRATH will facilitate the implementation of a forced marriage education program in at least 40 schools and vulnerable CALD communities across Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
ACRATH’s forced marriage worker, Liz Payne, has spent the past four years working in schools with teachers and students and believes the MWIA funding will have a positive impact on vulnerable girls, young women and school communities.
“Prevention-based education is imperative if we want to reduce forced marriage in this country. Educating teachers means they will know what to do when a student, or the student’s friend discloses an imminent forced marriage. It means the student who has been forced into a marriage, even if she has left the country, knows where to go for help and it means front line responders can develop common response pathways,” Liz said.
Mercy Foundation and Highways and Byways (formerly John Wallis Foundation) have also contributed to the forced marriage program.
Please support ACRATH and the victims and survivors of human trafficking today. Please, can you:
- Make a donation today.
- Go to ACRATH’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ACRATH and like it. You will then receive the regular posts about our fundraising appeal. To help spread the word please share these posts on your timeline.
Cheques payable to ACRATH Public Fund and posted to:
ACRATH National Office,
54 Beaconsfield Pde, Albert Park, 3206.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
ACRATH Public Fund
BSB 063 111
Account number 10802141
(Please send an email to [email protected] if you make a donation by direct deposit giving name and contact details so that a receipt can be sent).