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Learning from Lived Experience: Australia’s Legal Response to Forced Marriage


Frances Simmons and Grace Wong

Since the criminalisation of forced marriage in Australia in 2013, the number of cases reported to Australian authorities has risen sharply. This article draws on a qualitative study with eight survivors of forced marriage in Australia to explore survivors understanding of the legal concepts of forced marriage and family violence; experiences of coercion and control in the lead up to, and within, a forced marriage; the obstacles survivors encountered when they sought help; their reflections on justice and the limitations of legal responses to forced marriage; and how survivors can shape law and policy reform. The findings of this study underline the need to reframe Australia’s response to forced marriage to address the complex processes of coercion and control which lead to forced marriage and to create meaningful opportunities for survivors to shape the design, implementation and evaluation of legal and policy responses to forced marriage.

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(2021) 44(4) UNSWLJ 1619: