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Monday, February 10, 2014

Muslim father marries off 12 year old daughter

I can't believe this is happening in Sydney in 2014.  A 26 year old Lebanese man has been arrested for sexually abusing a 12 year old girl.  Surely he must have known that although marrying off children is okay under Sharia, in Australia it's a crime.  Nothing is above Australian law.

But the person responsible for this outrage in my view is her father, who arranged an Islamic marriage ceremony in his home.

The 26 year old arrived in Sydney last August with the intention of furthering his education at Newcastle University.  Instead, he's under arrest charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child aged between 10 and 14. 

The girl was taken into the protection of Family and Community Services and will stay there until a permanent home can be found for her. She has received counselling.

Commander of the Child Abuse Squad, Detective Inspector Peter Yeomans said "You have to take religion and culture out of it and see it for what it is - a sexual assault of a 12 year old child."  At the time of his arrest, the girl had turned 13.

When the man tried to enroll the child in a school close to their home in Sydney, he found he couldn't do it without the signature of a guardian. So he went to Centrelink to find out how to become her guardian and a government worker called police.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said she was horrified by the case but knows there is a large number of unlawful, unregistered marriages taking place to under age children in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. 

"Whatever the cultural practice, whatever the religious practice, there is no law in Australia above Australian law" she said.  "In this country, little girls have rights and in particular, they have the right to a childhood free of this sort of abuse, that's what we are here as a community to uphold."

But there is still a glaring injustice still outstanding in this shocking case.  The man who is supposed to be her protector - her father - should be in prison too.

Edit 11 February 2014:  Late yesterday afternoon in Parramatta, police from the Child Abuse Squad arrested a 35 year old imam who performed the wedding ceremony.

Edit 21 February 2014:  Riaz Tasawar, the imam who married the pair, is now being held at Villawood Detention Centre after the sponsorship of his visa was cancelled.