Victoria Police concerned by number of forced marriages going unreported

Date

Jake Bourke

Victoria Police is concerned by the number of people being forced into marriage.

Victoria Police is concerned by the number of people being forced into marriage. Photo: .

Victoria Police has expressed its concern over the number of forced marriages going unreported in the state.

The revelation prompted an extraordinary call from a Melbourne woman of Lebanese descent who told Tom Elliott she ran away from home after her father threatened to kill her if she didn't marry a man of his choice.

Detective Superintendent Rod Jouning, Head of the Family and Sexual Violence unit at Victoria Police, told 3AW Drive that children as young as 12 were being forced into marriage arrangements against their will.

"What worries us is that forced marriage is principally against all human rights and that's something we stand very strongly for here," Mr Jouning said.

"It's also another element of violence against women and children we see in this country.

"We need to actually raise the awareness, see what is there and then be able to deal with it.

"The very nature of forced marriages… the participants are quite often coerced, threatened, so they don't want to come out and report it."

LISTEN: The Head of Victoria Police's Family and Sexual Violence Unit joins 3AW

The interview drew an almost immediate response.

Alex, 33, was born and raised in Australia and rang to tell Tom Elliott her Lebanese parents had tried to force her and her sister into arranged marriages.

After rejecting numerous marriage propositions, Alex and her sister eventually ran away from home after her father threatened to kill them and told them how he'd do it.

"Initially, they said they would kill us, so we were really scared," she said.

"We had to disappear.

"They made it really clear that our lives were at stake."

LISTEN: Alex shares her horrific story with Tom Elliott on 3AW Drive

Alex told Tom Elliott she was "blessed" to grow up in Australia and that support from friends had given her the power to escape.

"They would always tell me I had a choice," she said.

"I can't thank those people enough because I was so brainwashed and prepared for that future but they told me it didn't have to be."

Tom Elliott was disgusted by what he heard.

"Imagine saying to your daughter I'm going to kill you, here's how I'm going to do it and other people will cheer me on? That's not a cultural difference - that's sick," he said.

"That's mentally unstable and is simply wrong and has absolutely no place in modern Australia."

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