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Thematic Issue: Vulnerability and the Law

Responding to Vulnerability? Forced Marriage and the Law


Heli Askola

This article examines how the Australian legal response to forced marriage, introduced in 2013, understands and seeks to remedy the vulnerabilities of those in or at risk of a forced marriage. The article argues that the legal response, framed in terms of the coercive mobilisation of criminal justice as part of the Commonwealth approach to trafficking and slavery, conceptualises the situation of those who are forced to marry without full and free consent in ways that only partially recognise their many vulnerabilities. A more comprehensive strategy would target the factors and settings that create or contribute to the circumstances of vulnerability in the first place – including the complex role of family and community dynamics – via a range of protective and preventative measures and a coordinated approach that recognises forced marriage as a complex form of family violence.

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(2018) 41(3) UNSWLJ 977: