A Lebanese university
student had only been in Australia
for a matter of weeks when he laid his eyes on his future wife.
He did not seem to mind that
she was only 12-years-old.
The 26-year-old stepped off
a plane in Sydney last August with a student
visa and the intention of furthering his education at the University of Newcastle.
At a local mosque, he met a 12-year-old girl whom he would later marry during
an Islamic ceremony.
Police allege the accused
took primary care of the young girl and moved with her to a home in Sydney’s south-west.
In this home, he is accused
of having sexual intercourse with the girl 25 times between January 1 and
February 4. He told police he married the girl earlier this year and does not
believe he has done anything wrong.
Commander of the Child Abuse
Squad, Detective Inspector Peter Yeomans, said it was hard to believe such
terrible offences could occur to a girl at “an obviously very tender age”.
“You have to take religion
and culture out if it and see it for what it is – a sexual assault of a 12-year-old-child,”
Inspector Yeomans said.
“In the end it is a 12-year-old
child [and] no matter how we look at and how he wants to sway it culturally, ceremonies
or anything else … he has been charged with numerous counts of sexual assault,”
he said. “I was astonished in relation to the background of the information.”
Fairfax Media understands
the accused tried to enroll the victim at a school close to their home but was
not able to without legal guardianship.
It is believed he went to
Centrelink in order to become the girl’s legal guardian but a government worker
reported his application to NSW Police.
On Thursday, child abuse
squad detectives arrested the 26-year-old and took him to Auburn Police Station.
He was charged with 25
counts of sexual intercourse with a child aged between 10 and 14.
At the time of his arrest, his
child bride had turned 13.
The young girl was taken
into the protection of Family and Community Services where she will remain
until a permanent home is found for her.
She has been medically
examined and received counselling.
It is not clear whether the
girl’s father and mother were aware of the union.
At Burwood Local Court on Friday, the man
sat silently in the dock wearing an orange, grey and white polo shirt and
listened to the proceedings with the help of an Arabic interpreter.
Bail was not applied for but
the magistrate Christopher Longley formally refused it.
The accused’s lawyer said
his client wished to make an application for bail next Wednesday, February 12.
The Family and Community
Services Minister, Pru Goward, said she was ”horrified” by the case.
”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 is what we are here as a community to uphold.”
Ms Goward said she was aware
there was a large number of unlawful, unregistered marriages to under age girls
in NSW particularly in western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
“You have to take religion &
culture out of it”. But you can’t, this is Islam teaching him to believe “he
has done nothing wrong”.
Child Marriage Epidemic In Australia : Man Arrested For Marrying a 12 Year Old School Girl4.55SEEKER Saturday, 12 November 2016 A Lebanese university student had only been in Australia for a matter of weeks when he laid his eyes on his future wife. He did not se...