A gut-wrenching video has emerged showing an imam forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry a man 20 years older than she in Australia.
7 News Sydney ran a news story that featured the video, which came from the phone of the groom, showing Ibrahim Omerdic, then the imam of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Islamic Society, reciting words for an Islamic wedding ceremony. Omerdic eventually asks if the man and the underage girl agree to live as husband as wife; after the girl says "yes," Omerdic tells her that she must "obey" her new husband.
The girl can be seen sitting nervously in the video while her mother observes the ceremony. The mother allegedly agreed to the forced marriage after the groom provided her with a $1,480 necklace as a dowry.
Omerdic has since been canned from his position as imam and faces charges for his role in the forced marriage of an underage girl.
"Mr Omerdic is no longer the Imam of the Noble Park Mosque and has no role with the society," the Islamic Council of Victoria said in a statement. "Further, Mr. Omerdic's marriage celebrant license has been revoked."
The council also stated, "Underage marriages are illegal in Australia. As Australian Muslims we are required to observe and respect the laws of Australia."
The groom has pled guilty for his role in the forced marriage; he was at one point charged with having sexual relations with the underage girl but that charge has since been dropped.
According to the news report, child weddings only became illegal in Australia in 2013. Between December 30, 2014 and January 31, 2017, there were 60 reported instances of such weddings occurring among 57 children. The breakdown among the ages of these children was:
- 34 between the ages of 16 and 17.
- 12 between the ages of 14 and 15.
- 7 between the ages of 10 and 13.
- Four at or under the age of 19.
There are also an increasing amount of cases involving children from Sydney "being taken overseas and forced to become child brides," according to SBS News.
The 7 News report also highlights their interview with Laura Vidal from The Freedom Partnership explaining that forced child weddings can result in "forced or unwanted pregnancies" and "withdrawal from education." Vidal also told SBS News that one of the reasons why forced child marriages occur is "the purposes of immigration."
On Twitter, the news station asked, "Why are the authorities ignoring the problem?"
The full video can be seen below:
H/T: Daily Mail