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Forced marriage bill passes first reading

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/06/2017

A bill that protects teenagers from being forced into marriage has passed its first reading with unanimous support and is on its way to becoming law.

When it is in law, 16 and 17-year-olds who want to marry will have to apply to the Family Court and a judge must grant permission.

The marriageable age is 18 and marriage under 16 is illegal.

However, 16 and 17-year-olds can marry with parental consent.

It happens on average about 80 times a year.

Ms Hayes said forced marriage occurred in New Zealand, and young women were often brought into the country for that purpose.

"There's no doubt it's a horrific cultural practise," she said.

"Forced marriage, child marriage, sickens me and we have to stop it happening in New Zealand."

The bill defines a forced marriage as one where one or both of the people do not or cannot consent to the marriage.

"The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical or emotional and psychological," the bill states.

"Financial abuse - taking a person's wages or not giving the person any money - can also be a factor."

All the parties in parliament strongly supported the bill and it has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.

It was drafted by former National MP Jackie Blue in 2012, who put it into the members' bill ballot.

Ms Hayes took it over and it was drawn from the ballot last month.

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