Australia: more than just a nanny state

A federal court in Sydney places a 16-year-old girl on a watch list to prevent her parents from sending her to Lebanon

Who says parents know best when it comes to raising their children? Apparently not the Australian judicial system. Joe Harman, magistrate at a federal court in Sydney, recently placed a 16-year-old girl on Australia’s airport watch list to prevent her parents from sending her to Lebanon for an arranged marriage.

According to Australia’s The Age, the girl had only met her arranged husband once. She desperately wanted to avoid being shipped off to marry him. In what Harman called “a great act of bravery,” the girl approached the court for help. Harman decided to place her on the PACE Alert system. That way, the government will know if her parents try to force her out of the country to be married.

Since the girl expressed fears over her mother’s reaction to how she had taken her cause to the courts, the magistrate ordered her parents not to question, threaten or harass her. “It is not the right of any parent to cause their child to be married against their will, whether in accordance with Australian law or otherwise,” Harman said. Sometimes the parenthood of the state trumps the parenthood of the parent.

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