"Forced marriages constitute a serious violation of human rights and the rights of the child," said Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director of UNICEF NZ, in response to the story of a 17 year-old woman forced into a marriage and held against her will in Wellington*.
He referred to a report by the rapporteur for the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (Mrs Rosemarie Zapfl-Helbling, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) which said: "it is an outrage that, under the cloak of respect for the culture and traditions of certain communities, there are authorities which tolerate forced marriages although they violate the fundamental rights of each and every victim."
McKinlay said, "The Select Committee enquiry, which reported to our Parliament early in 2010, made a set of recommendations to protect young women who could be subjected to the practice.
"UNICEF NZ supports the call for legislation to be introduced in New Zealand that specifically targets forced and child marriages. In addition, a national education and awareness campaign of the issue should be undertaken to provide government officials, community leaders and professionals with more information.
'Finally, we would like to applaud the Shakti Community Council for their work in raising awareness of this issue."
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