A YOUNG Sydney girl used government aid to divorce her parents so she could escape an arranged marriage in Pakistan in a landmark family law case that has forced crisis meetings among authorities.
Legal Aid said the 15-year-old, known only as “Ayesha”, was the first case where a young person had made “their own application to successfully become a ward of the court”.
Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard said the brave teenager was a “shining light” for other children trying to escape the “utter despair” of a “despicable practice”.
The Saturday Telegraph can reveal the Australian Federal Police, the Immigration Department and child protection agencies are now holding high-level talks about how rescue responses for vulnerable girls forced into marriage against their will could be so bad that children are resorting to divorcing their parents.
The case was also raised at a recent meeting of Australian community services ministers on November 11.
Ayesha, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, moved to Australia to live with her mum and stepfather.
While on a trip back to Pakistan, her mother pressured her to marry.
When she refused, her mother assaulted her and took her passport before returning to Australia, leaving her stranded in Pakistan.
Legal Aid said Ayesha was “assisted to return to Australia” where they then helped “obtain orders” to prevent Ayesha from being taken out of Australia to be married.
When FACS declined to take Ayesha into care, Legal Aid applied to the Supreme Court in March 2015 for Ayesha to be a ward of the court.
FACS then filed an application in the Children’s Court to take Ayesha into care.
Ayesha’s case and “a number of others” are currently “the subject of discussions around how government agencies can improve responses’’.
Ayesha ultimately decided to return to her father’s care in Pakistan and “a final resolution” was reached in the Children’s Court “by consent”.
She wants to return to Australia to study at university.
Mr Hazzard said Ayesha was a hero who rallied against the “darkness”: “This girl’s courage was a shining light which will send a clear message to other kids (that) you can stand up to the despicable old ways of forced marriage.”
Read More: The Daily Telegraph
By: Anthony De CeglieBack to News
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