A NZ forced marriage

A ghastly story at Stuff:

For months, in an ordinary house in a Wellington suburb, a 17-year-old Pakistani was held hostage, trapped in a marriage forced on her by her parents and threatened with death.

The woman, who does not want to be identified, was married in 2010 without her consent or knowledge after her Muslim parents learned she had a Hindu boyfriend and became concerned she was too westernised.

If they think she was too westernised, they should not have moved to New Zealand.

The Wellington teenager refused to go ahead with the marriage, despite months of family threats of deportation and violence.

Then her parents took her to the Internal Affairs Department to sign what they said were visa documents but which she later found were marriage papers.

That night a ceremony was held at her parents’ home. She was told it was an engagement ceremony and, if she did not attend, she would be deported. After the ceremony she said her father told her she was married and was to go to her husband’s house in Newtown with him that night.

“I was crying all day and night. I didn’t want to get married. I don’t think any 17-year-old girl would want to get married.

“I was freaking out. I was still in shock and told the guy not to touch me. He was trying to be forceful to me sexually but, when I warned him about the police, he backed off.”

Smart girl. Smart guy also for backing off, realising we have rape laws.

For two months she was held in a kind of prison with her husband and his family. They would not let her leave the house or use the phone and always supervised her. They demanded she sleep with her new husband and have a baby.

Her own parents visited once a week but barely spoke to her.

She finally did escape, and went to the police and ethnic women’s support organisation Shakti. Her marriage has since been annulled and her parents have gone back to Pakistan.

Before leaving, her father told her he would kill her if he saw her again. “I wanted to die. My dad was saying that to his own daughter, I couldn’t believe it.”

I’m glad the parents have left, as they should be deported if they had not. I also think her “husband’s” family should be checked out. There is no room in New Zealand for people who condone forced marriages.

I don’t think our laws should discriminate on the basis of religion (well except scientologists 🙂 but I do think we need to make very clear to potential immigrants that there are certain aspects of New Zealand culture and laws which are important to New Zealanders such as separation of state and religion, equal rights for women, no forced marriages, democracy, freedom of expression etc etc. And equally the message should go out that if you have a huge problem with any of these things, then you might not want to live here.

I just hope the poor 17 year old girl prospers in New Zealand, despite being abandoned by her family.

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