Education on women's rights key to preventing forced marriage

08/03/2024 | 3 mins

A report from The University of Western Australia has identified the need for community education on forced marriage in Western Australia.

Associate Professor Fiona McGaughey, from UWA’s Law School, led the Tackling Forced Marriage in WA project which engaged with 30 women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“Forced marriage is a global problem with an estimated 22 million people living in situations of forced marriage around the world,” Associate Professor McGaughey said.

“It is well-established that forced marriage is under-reported in Australia and women and girls are disproportionately affected.”

In Australia, reports of forced marriage have continued to rise since its criminalisation in 2013 and in the 2022-2023 financial year there were 90 reports of forced marriage nationally.

The project aimed to engage with women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and relevant professionals to identify the gaps in information on forced marriage in WA. 

Through focus groups it was identified that the key barriers to preventing and tackling forced marriage were cultural, rather than due to a lack of information.

“Most women understood their rights but were fearful of acting on them,” Associate Professor McGaughey said.

UWA research assistant on the project, Tsitsi Gotora said women reported a key barrier to accessing help was fear of being shunned by their community.

Women and professionals in the field recommended education on women’s rights in schools, and community groups, with a focus on community leaders. 

Women also wanted information displayed in public places such as schools, hospitals, places of worship, food markets, charity shops and on public transport. 

Researchers identified the need for forced marriage to be included within the family and domestic violence framework rather than being dealt with through the Federal Criminal Code.

The research was carried out in 2023 as a partnership between Sexual Health Quarters and researchers at UWA’s Law School and was funded by Walk Free.

Media references

Annelies Gartner (UWA PR & Media Adviser) 08 6488 6876    

Share this

Related news


Browse by Topic

Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.