Forced marriage proposals are increasingly being introduced in Australia.
The proposed legislation would force couples to marry at a ceremony of the couple’s choice, rather than having the marriage annulled if they were unhappy about their marriage.
This would make it easier for some couples to escape forced marriage.
“I was forced to marry someone that was an alcoholic, which was actually an option that I was told was impossible to accept,” Christine Grieve said.
“There were other options, but I was forced into it.
It wasn’t a choice that was being made for me.”
Grieve said the situation made her believe that forced marriage could be more of a problem than she previously thought.
“It was a very painful process that I didn’t like and I’m not proud of.
I didn, and I never wanted to be in a position where I had to go through that again,” she said.
The Australian Human Rights Commission says forced marriage is a very real issue.
The commission says in 2016, more than 4,000 forced marriages were recorded in the state of New South Wales, where most of the proposed legislation was introduced.
The NSW Human Rights Commissioner says it’s important that we work together to address this issue.
“This is not something that is unique to New South Australia, it’s a global issue, so it’s just the right time for us to come together and try to address it,” Dr Fiona Twomey said.
“The human rights commissioner is here to be an advocate, she’s here to work with the people who are most affected by forced marriage, she can help them and she can be a source of strength to those people.”
Grief says the bill will also affect other couples that might not have been able to choose a marriage that they liked, but are still interested in.
“You might think you’ve made your choice, but that was the last thing you wanted, it wasn’t the first thing you said, you’re still trying to move forward and find your way, but this bill will have an impact on your life and your children,” she told ABC News.
“If you’re in a situation where you’re married to someone you like and you don’t feel comfortable saying no to that person, that’s where you can turn to the courts, if you don.
You can turn it around and go for a marriage certificate and it will be the best decision for you.”
Ms Twomeya said she had been married before and wanted to fight the forced marriage laws, but couldn’t afford it.
“In this situation, I could not go through the process of finding a partner and finding out who my partner is,” she explained.
“So I was really, really afraid that if I didn (find a marriage partner) I’d be unable to get the marriage certificate, because I couldn’t get the documents from the marriage registry.”
The law would not be mandatory, but would be enforced.
The bill would allow for the person who makes the decision to get married to be fined $100 and could be required to take another form of counselling.
Ms Twomes mother has been in a relationship with a married man for 10 years.
“They were married for a period of time, she got married at the age of 30 and he was married at 28,” Ms Twomeys mother said.
Dr Twomeym said the law is not a replacement for a family court process.
“When you’re involved in a family relationship, the court system is a place where you go in, where you get your first, your second, your third, your fourth, your fifth and the final thing that you do is make a decision about the life that you’re going to lead for your children and you can’t do that at the moment,” she added.
The law will be introduced in parliament in October.