A Sydney woman says her high school friends were being married off as child brides from the age of 12.

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”.


“Sometimes I was told, we can’t do anything because they are in Iraq. Or else they told me, they should go to the embassy. But how can they go to the embassy when they aren’t allowed out of the house?” she asked.

Bee al-Darraj. Image: Facebook.

Last month, the AFP revealed it had investigated 69 of forced or underage marriages in the 2015-16 financial year, up from 33 the previous year. However, according to The Australian, there were very few successful prosecutions.

Sadly, al-Darraj's claims won't get far either.

In a statement to the paper, the AFP said that because the marriages alleged by the 24-year-old occurred prior to 2013, those responsible were not able to be prosecuted under Australian law.

"Forced marriage was criminalised in March 2013,” the statement said. “The legislation was not retrospective so the AFP is not in a position to investigate matters where a marriage or arrangement occurred prior to March 2013.”

Al-Darraj has since contacted them with more examples, but was encouraged to contact emergency services - the correct protocol, according to the AFP.

“If someone is at risk of harm due to forced marriage or any other type of family ­violence, they should contact police on 000," it said in a statement to The Australian. "Members of the public who have any information about people involved in forced marriage are urged to contact Crime Stoppers.”