A 14 year old Australian girl has been prevented from boarding a plane by authorities in order to stop her arranged marriage in Lebanon.
The girl was detained with her uncle by customs and federal police at Sydney airport. She was said to be on a watch list of children at risk of being taken abroad for the purpose of getting married.
The girl and her uncle were released after questioning. In a statement, police said further inquiries were being made but it was “not appropriate” to comment further on the case.
Authorities have been on high alert in recent weeks following a social media campaign by terrorist group Islamic State (Isis) to recruit child brides for their members. However, this incident was “not counter-terror related”.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said that arranged marriages involving children were “an abomination” and “an assault on Australian values”.
In February 2013, the Australian government passed an amendment to the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 which made forced marriage a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison if the victim is less than 18 years old.
Arranged marriage is not covered by the amendment because, under Australian law, those feature both an adult bride and groom who have freely consented.