Asha Aggarwala had her marriage arranged when she was 22, during a trip home to India. She was married within two and a half weeks. She says it was doomed from day one and she endured many years of unhappiness. Despite this, she used online matrimonial sites, Shaadi and Bharat to help her son find his wife.
Daniel Vijayakumar is a student and part-time singer who is open to an arranged marriage. After his brother married a Sri Lankan girl chosen by the family, he wrote a satirical R&B song called the "The Arranged Marriage Song" to defend and celebrate the practice. He says people who go into an arranged marriage share the same value system and that includes no sex before marriage.
"Meriam" was 14 when her father arranged her marriage to a 29-year-old family friend in a religious ceremony in Australia. She was legally married at 19. Thirteen years later, she is still with her husband but says she should never have been forced to marry so young. "Meriam" says her teachers and principal knew about the marriage but didn’t help her.
Matten Olumee is the father of three sons aged eight, six and three. He says when his children are old enough he will arrange their marriages. Matten has already had this conversation with his two elder sons. Matten says he will not allow his children to date before marriage. He is happily married to a woman chosen by his mother.
Sabina was looking forward to finishing her studies in social work in Bangladesh when her parents pressured her into a marriage with a local man living in Australia on a student visa. Four days later she was married. Her own mother was 14 when she got married and her grandmother was nine. Sabina fled the marriage earlier this year and is now alone in Australia but fearful of the consequences should she be forced to return to Bangladesh.
Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis is the Chairwoman of the Australian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance. As a young Greek migrant to Australia, Vivi’s own marriage was arranged. She says there are important cultural reasons for arranged marriages. She says issues surrounding arranged marriage should be handled in a way that does not chastise parents.
Associate Professor Jennifer Burn is a lawyer and director of Anti-Slavery Australia. Operated through the University of Technology Sydney, the group’s focus is on tackling slavery and human trafficking. Jennifer says there needs to be criminal penalties for forcing someone into marriage as part of a wider government response.
Tasneem Chopra is chair of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights. She is concerned by the number of cases of teenage girls entering arranged marriages and sometimes forced marriages overseas. She understands why the Federal Government is trying to address the issue of forced marriage but thinks legislating against it isn't the best way to tackle the problem.