10 January, 2010

Runaway teen bride abducted

Dowries being exchanged for teenage wives.
Parents arranging their daughters marriages and forcing them to 'honour their marriage vows'.
Abducted, abused and held against their will.
Are you tired of hearing "Things like that don't happen on our side of the world"? How much more proof do we need?

Runaway teen bride abducted
LEIGH VAN DER STOEP and TONY WALL - Sunday Star Times

A reluctant young New Zealand bride has allegedly been punched, abducted and held against her will by her mother to force her to honour her marriage vows and have sex with her groom.

The teenager's family was given dowry of a large pig and expensive mats to marry her husband, who is understood to be almost twice her age.

Her mother and a man understood to be her stepfather have been charged with unlawfully detaining her over the course of two days, allegedly to force her to be the groom's wife and to force her to have sex with him.

The girl, of Tongan descent, is understood to be about 17 years old, but the family cannot be named for legal reasons.

The girl's mother has also been charged with assaulting her on two separate occasions over the marriage matter. It is claimed that the mother punched her daughter with a closed fist, but the girl managed to deflect most of the blows.

A source close to the family said the girl did not want to marry the man, but an agreement was reached between the two families and she was obliged to honour it.

On her wedding night last year she ran away to her boyfriend, understood to be the groom's son. It was then that she was allegedly assaulted, abducted and brought back to the matrimonial home to perform her duties as a wife.

The Sunday Star-Times was told by a community source that when a young woman is married, it is customary for the family to inspect the sheets the day after the wedding to establish her virginity has been taken.

It is understood the young bride ran away to avoid having sex with the man. Police were alerted to the case when she went to court to seek a restraining order against her mother.

One relative told the Star-Times the couple were now together again – although reluctantly on the girl's part. The mother, when approached, said: "My family's problems are gone... I don't want to say anything."

She would not comment on where the girl was living or her daughter's future, but said the wedding was "good".

The mother and her husband are to reappear in court later this month facing six charges, the most serious of which carries a maximum prison term of 14 years.

Methodist minister Reverend Tavake Tupou said the case was "very unusual" within the community. It was the first time he had heard of something like this happening.

Community leader Malia Hamani, QSM, said culture could not be blamed for the alleged events. She said possible scenarios could be that the girl had been "up to no good" and her family were hoping she would settle down with a mature man. She said the virginity of a bride was considered very important. She was surprised by the alleged events, saying she did not know of any mother who would hurt her child or do anything without the child's best interests at heart.

The girl was a student at her local college last year.

Neither she nor her husband could be reached for comment.