SHE was just 12-years-old when she felt a stabbing pain on the side of her stomach.
The young girl from New South Wales’ Hunter Region didn’t know she was suffering an ectopic pregnancy — which develops outside the uterus — after recently marrying her 27-year-old ‘husband’ in the lounge room of her home in an Islamic ceremony.
The couple had met at a mosque the previous year and the man started plying her with text messages which she initially ignored. Later, the girl began to respond and the pair married at their home before leaving to stay in Sydney motels where they would have sex at least once a day.
This week, the man who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with 25 counts of having sex with a child. He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years and will be sentenced in March.
The case is one of an estimated 250 instances of child marraige that happen in Australia each year. It’s a phenomenon described as “far more prevalent and well-known than people think” with girls as young as 11 being regularly “shopped” online to men eager for a young bride.
Plan International’s Child Rights specialist Sophie Shugg said while many women in Australia receive roses and chocolate this Valentine’s Day, the organisation is advocating for an end to child marriage around the world which can be a “lifelong jail sentence” for young girls.
“There is limited research and limited knowledge about the prevalence here in Australia,” she told news.com.au.
“We do know it happens. It’s similar issues to what we see universally, it has the same result eventually and what we’ve learnt overseas and we can apply here in Australia is girls feeling empowered … helps them overcome some situations where they’re coerced or forced into marriages.”
The charity estimates 14 million girls around the world are forced into a marriage each year — some as young as eight years old — with one in three girls in the developing world married by the time they are 18.
“These girls typically drop out of education and often fall pregnant before their bodies are fully developed — and 50,000 teenagers a year die due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth,” she said.
The organisation has produced a short film called Young Love … It’s Complicated which tells the story of Zambian couple Saviour, 18, and Purity, 16, who are already the parents of two young children.
Although the two are in love, they speak of how pressure from families and their community made their marriage a necessity, and admit the early pregnancy has squashed some of their dreams.
“I regret having kids at such a young age,” Saviour said in the film.
“A number of my friends have also fallen into this predicament — I wasn’t the first one. I really loved school. My ambition when I left school was to be an accountant or a doctor. That dream is now gone because I’m married.”
Ms Shugg said the films shows how marriage locks people out of education and can lead to a life of poverty.
“It’s a complicated issue because not only is being married young difficult, but having to drop out of school, having children prematurely means they don’t get the education they need, it emphasises the cycle of poverty.”
“A lot of the time we see children married to much older men. This story showed even when there is love the reality is it’s not like in Australia. The ability to be well informed for family planning isn’t there. The only option is for them to marry and drop out of school. It’s a different picture than what we see in Australia for young love.”
It’s time for Australia to bring down the hammer on this! They have to start getting tougher on islamists. Maybe they better talk to PM Harper on how to enforce the Australian Laws they have against this.
Clue in Australia! It’s not LOVE as us westerners think of love. The Islamists don’t ask these young girls to marry them cuz they love each other. The men are marrying young girls cuz their prophet mohammhead was a pedophile also! He is the Perfect man! Mohammhead married Aisha when she was only six years old! So they are emulating him and marry these poor young girls.
Treat these pedophiles like you do any other pedophile! Throw them in jail!…. better yet….throw them in jail with the general population! No special areas for them! Either they’ll be used to service the other inmates or they’ll wind up dead in a few short weeks! Either way…it will be justice served.