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Teenagers put on airport watchlists to stop arranged marriages

GIRLS as young as 14 are being forced to go overseas to marry older men and have their children.

Parents tell their daughters they are being taken on holiday only for them to end up in arranged marriages. One desperate teenager has been placed on an airport watchlist to stop parents smuggling her out of the country after she pleaded with her school counsellor for help. The 14-year-old told officials she was convinced her parents intended to marry her off to an older man.

Another case in June last year involved a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who came back from overseas pregnant, but later miscarried. In some instances the marriages are used as a vehicle to allow men from overseas to come into Australia. Women’s Minister Pru Goward has ordered an investigation into cases of forced marriage following a rising number of complaints being reported to school counsellors and community leaders. Dr Eman Sharobeem, Director of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service, said she handled 15 cases of forced marriages involving teenagers in the past two years.

“I have been receiving many inquiries, recently from school counsellors, about cases of young girls who have been coming forward saying they have been forced into a relationship or risk being sent overseas for the marriage to take place,” Dr Sharobeem said. “It’s now visual – girls are coming forward saying, `help me, save me’. We did not have this before.”

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