A nine-year-old Sydney girl has allegedly left the country to be married overseas, just one of a dozen cases since June, a women’s health service says.
The Immigrant Women’s Health Service in western Sydney said it received a tip-off on Monday about a case involving a nine-year-old child bride.
The service spoke to the girl’s mother but said it could not get specific information. It is suspected the girl will be married in the Middle East.
The ABC could not confirm the claims.
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the Government had launched a new arranged marriage safety plan to encourage young women to speak up if they were being forced to marry.
“We’re very keen to … make sure that if somebody is to come across this type of crime that they know how to go about helping that person to report it to authorities so we can do something about it,” he said.
“We’re making sure that we have materials out there to educate the community about what to look for and so these crimes can be reported and then the appropriate authorities can go and prosecute them.”
But Dr Eman Sharobeem, director of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service, said the strategy would not work because girls were too scared to implicate their families.
“Forced marriage and child brides happen among the culturally and linguistically diverse communities, those communities will not go to the website and will not share glossy papers to see what’s written about legislation in the country,” she said.