A seven year-old Australian girl is to live with her mother amid fears she could be forced into marriage by her father, a Judge has declared.
The girl, who cannot be named by the press, was placed on Australia’s airport watch list after she told her mother that her father intended to take her to his home country so she could marry her cousin. The father’s home country was also not revealed to the media. The parents had married in 2007 when the mother was still a teenager but separated in 2011.
At the Parramatta Federal Court in a suburb of Sydney the 27 year-old mother, who was referred to under the pseudonym ‘Ms Anthony’, insisted the father had admitted his intentions after she confronted him about the allegation. Ms Anthony claimed he had told her:
“You guys are nothing, you are just women, you have no right. [The girl] will get married to my nephew … she will become what I want her to become and nobody in the world can change that.”
The father, called ‘Mr Kellett’ by the Court, denied the accusations, insisting he would “never subject [his daughter] to such things”.
Both Mr Kellet and Ms Anthony insisted that they had been the victims of domestic violence during their marriage. Ms Anthony claimed she had been forced to have sex with him and wear religious clothing “that elderly women would wear”. On the other hand, Mr Kellet told the Court that she would slap him during arguments and he would never retaliate.
The father also alleged that the mother had drug and alcohol problems. These became so bad that the police called him to her house and warned him that the girl would be taken by the state if things did not improve, he claimed. However, he was unable to provide evidence that the incident had taken place.
Judge Obradovic was not convinced by what the father said because “it is highly likely that evidence would exist” if he was telling the truth. The judge ruled that the girl should live with her mother full-time but could stay with Mr Kellet for two nights a week and spend half of school holidays with him.
The girl was to remain on the airport watch list, the Judge said, as this in combination with the limited time she had with her father would reduce the risk of her being forced into a marriage.
Photo of Parramatta by Phillip Capper via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.