When saying no is not an option: Forced marriage in Australia and New Zealand

S. Lyneham1* & S. Bricknell1

1 Australian Institute of Criminology, Samantha.Lyneham@aic.gov.au

In February 2013 the Australian Parliament passed legislation to criminalise forced marriage as a slavery-like practice, making Australia one of only a small number of countries to do so. While the criminalisation of forced marriage has been met with considerable government and civil society attention, there remains a lack of data on this issue including its prevalence, nature and context.

Drawing on primary research conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology into forced marriage in Australia (where it is a criminal offence) and New Zealand (where it is not), this paper examines the experiences of forced marriage victim/survivors and interventions to prevent and respond to this practice.

Specifically, the paper describes the experiences of victim/survivors before, during and after the forced marriage including the victim/survivors’ help-seeking behaviours, and concludes with an examination of criminal, civil and regulatory interventions.


Samantha is a Senior Research Analyst with the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Human Trafficking and Slavery Research Program where her work centres on the nature and context of these crimes in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Her recent research interests include forced marriage, exploitation within intimate relationships, domestic servitude and criminal justice responses to human trafficking and slavery offences.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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