When reading an article about National MP Joanne Hayes’s forced marriage bill I noticed that not one person including her was prepared to say the word, Islam.
National List MP Jo Hayes said she believes forced marriages between teenagers are “slowly creeping into New Zealand society” and that the problem exists primarily in Pacific and Asian communities, where parents can pressure a young girl into marrying an older man for financial security.
She said some young girls were treated like slaves once coerced into wedlock. Hayes said the bill would sort out which marriages were between consenting teenagers and which were forced.”I think [the teenagers] do it for their parents’ sake. I think it’s hell on earth for some of them.”
Instead of addressing the elephant in the room which is that one religion and one religion alone is primarily associated with child brides and forced marriage, Hayes has instead described it as a racial/ethnic issue that only exists inside the Pacific and Asian communities.
In the UK “Asian” means anyone from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka but in New Zealand, we think of Asian as being anyone from China, Korea or Japan. I find it hard to believe that there is an issue with forced marriage inside our Chinese, Korean and Japanese communities in New Zealand. I also find it hard to believe that forced marriage is an issue within the Pacific Island community.
Labour’s spokesman for Pacific Island Affairs, Su’a William Sio, said he had not heard of forced marriages in Pasifika communities.
“I’m not sure what she’s aiming at. This is the 21st century. That just doesn’t happen.”
The only possible situation I could imagine where it might happen would be when a Pacific Island girl from a church going family got pregnant. Then I could imagine there might be family pressure to get married.
Surprisingly Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern has a better understanding of Islam than most and even though she avoids using the word (like everyone else interviewed for the article) she raised a valid point that can only be referring to Muslims.
Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern said Labour would support any way to combat forced marriage. But sometimes marriages happened outside the law.
“The marriage doesn’t have legal standing but it has religious standing. It’s the same consequences for these young women.
“You can put laws in place, but if people aren’t going to conduct ceremonies within the law then it become a blunt instrument.”
Ardern said the Family and Whanau Violence Legislation Bill, which is before the select committee, has proposed a new offence for the coercion of marriage with a sentence to imprisonment for up to five years. This would cover marriages not governed by New Zealand law or those not legally binding.
“We’re very supportive of taking action.
“People are surprised to hear forced marriage is an issue in New Zealand, but it absolutely is.”
Ardern’s statement shows that she understands the problem by accurately pinpointing out the flaws in National MP Jo Hayes’s forced marriage bill. While neither woman is prepared to name the elephant in the room at least Ardern wants to deal with the
Islamic religious marriages that are being performed in New Zealand illegally.
If Ardern or Hayes would like to get a better grasp of the real problems facing young women in New Zealand regarding forced marriage then they should both visit Shakti and speak to the women there.
They will find that contrary to what the article they were interviewed for says, the victims of forced marriage are not primarily from the Pacific Islands or China, Korea or Japan. Primarily they are from Africa the Middle Eastern and Asia (as defined by the UK) They also have one thing in common and it is not race, it is religion. The religion they all have in common is Islam.
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