Feb
15

Arranged marriage - family court ruling

How does the Family Court view an arranged marriage, where one of the parties has been coerced by strong parental pressure?  A recent decision of the Court in Kreet & Sampir [2011] FamCA 22, 18 January 2011, concerned such an issue. The marriage, which took place in India, was not recognised by the Court as valid under Australian law, as the girl had not been free to consent. 

The girl, who has lived in Australia most of her life, had indicated she intended to marry a man 'Mr U' she had met in Australia.  The father objected to this relationship as the man was not from a caste deemed suitable for his daughter.  The daughter agreed to travel to India with her parents, thinking she would be participating in a marriage ceremony with Mr U.  However, upon their arrival she was forced to marry another man the parents considered suitable for their daughter.  The father threatened his daughter that Mr U’s mother and sisters would be raped if she did not comply with his wishes. 

Judge Cronin said 'the parents adopted a position based on cultural practice' but the law to be applied 'is that of Australia'.  'I am satisfied that the wife’s physical state at the time of the ceremony was such that she was physically and mentally overborne.  Here consent was not real because it was obtained by duress', he said.  Read this article by Caroline Overington in The Australian.

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