A Sydney woman has slammed Australian authorities for failing to act on her reports about a number of underage girls in the city’s west being married to adult men.
Bee al-Darraj (pictured above) told The Australian she informed the Australian Federal Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services about several girls she knew from school who were taken overseas to be married, some as young as 12- or 13-years-old.
And she has a thick paper trail to prove it.
According to the outlet, the now 24-year-old expressed specific concern about a married 13-year old who gave birth in a public hospital at the age of 14, where the baby’s 28-year-old father reportedly signed the birth certificate.
“She was still in school but nothing was done until he started to beat her, and then she was put in a safe house,” she said.
Al-Darraj said she knew of other married girls at a high school in Auburn who “would come to school, a 15-year-old getting dropped off by her 30-year-old husband”.
“For some of them, they want freedom from all the rules at home,” she told The Australian. “And their mother will say, ‘if you don’t like it, get married, and have freedom at your husband’s house’, so they do.”
The Blue Mountains resident fled her own family when, at just 15, her mother expressed a desire that she be married. She was placed her in a safe house with homeless children by The Department of Family Services, and to this day has no contact with her parents.
A number of years ago, the Iraqi-born woman made the decision to report those who had successfully married their children off, a process that she says turned out to be “a never-ending circle”.