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Your Marriage Rights

Who and when you marry should always be your decision, no one can make you marry someone you don’t want to. Living in Australia you have the right to choose who you marry, and the right to leave a marriage if you want to.

What is Forced Marriage?

Forced marriage is when someone makes you marry someone against your will and it is illegal in Australia. There are different ways someone can pressure you in to marrying someone you don’t want to, they include:

  • putting psychological or emotional pressure on you
  • tricking you
  • threatening you
  • being violent towards you
  • keeping you locked up

Forced marriage happens across society in Australia, not just in one ethnic group or religion. You have the right to decide who you marry, and to live free from pressure or abuse to marry someone you don’t want to.

Forced marriage laws apply to:

  • legally recognised marriages
  • registered relationships (such as de facto relationships)
  • cultural and religious ceremonies
  • marriages that occur in Australia
  • marriages where someone is taken overseas to get married

You can read more about forced marriage on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs Website or this factsheet.

I think my friend is being forced to marry someone they don’t want to.

Here are some warning signs that might help you work out if one of your friends is being forced into marriage:

  • other family members leaving school early or getting married young
  • your friend not being allowed to do things or always being accompanied
  • depression, self harm or substance abuse
  • your friend is worried about going on a holiday with their family
  • having a long time off from school
  • becoming uninterested in school or skipping school
  • your friends parents control their income
  • your friends family fights a lot
  • your friend is experiencing family violence
  • your friend tries to run away from home

If you notice any of these things happening to one of your friends ask them what’s going on and if they’re ok. You should tell an adult you trust what is going on, like a parent, teacher or school counsellor so that they can help and support both of you. If you’re not sure what to do you can call Kids Helpline for confidential counselling and support.

Where can I get Help?

If you or someone else is in immediate danger call emergency services on 000. If you are being forced into a marriage by someone tell an adult you trust like a teacher or school counsellor what is going on. You can call the Australian Federal Police on 131 237, you don’t have to open a case with them but they can help by:

  • stopping you from being taken overseas
  • finding you safe accommodation
  • giving you financial support
  • giving you legal advice
  • giving you counselling
  • directing you to support services

You can also call Kids Helpline for confidential counselling and support. If you are experiencing violence or abuse at home you can call 1800 RESPECT for help and support.

Click here for a list of Support Services.