Forced Marriage Laws Strengthened in Australia
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Act 2015 came into force on Friday 27 November 2015. This act makes it clear forced marriage includes situations where a person is not able to understand the nature and effect of marriage for reasons such as age and mental capacity. The Act also presumes that a person under the age of 16 does not understand the nature and effect of a marriage ceremony and so a defendant would bear the burden of proving the contrary on the balance of probabilities.
Penalties for forced marriage offences have increased under the new Act. The base offence caries a penalty of seven year imprisonment while an aggravated offence carries nine years penalty.
These measures adopted by the Australian Government send a clear message that the slavery-like practice of forced marriage is unacceptable. For more information on forced marriage visit the Department of Home Affairs website.