Saturday 24 March 2018

High Court annuls marriage between Egyptian girl (16) and husband (29)

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE High Court annulled a marriage between a 16 year old Egyptian girl who married a 29 year old man against her wishes.

The marriage between the couple, who are both of the Islamic faith, was declared null and void after gardai and others raised concerns that the teen was the subject of a marriage against her will.

R, the young girl, had very little contact with her future husband and was very apprehensive about the marriage, the High Court heard this morning.

The young girl did not wish to marry at all, but the High Court said that her parents's wishes took precedence over their daughter's.

The young girl ran away after her purported marriage ceremony in September 2010, prompting the HSE to seek care orders for the teen who is no longer living in Ireland.

R left Ireland despite a court order restraining her removal out of the country.

The ruling was delivered this morning by Supreme Court judge Mr Justice John MacMenamin.

It was Judge Mac Menamin's, who was formerly the listing judge of the High Court Minor's list, final ruling as a High Court judge.

Judge MacManamin said that this was not a case where the State or its agencies "failed".

The HSE acted "entirely as they should have" said the judge, adding that gardai had acted entirely properly in the circumstances.

In his ruling, the judge said that R's welfare remains a matter for concern.

Judge Mac Menamin said that he was left with a sense of real sympathy for "a vulnerable, very young woman who was placed in a series of impossible situations and who simply did not receive the parental support she was entitled to expect".

But he said that he did not go further to address the issue of duress directly, only because the boundaries of constitutional fairness which must be observed in what was a hearing where all the parties did not give evidence.

"For that reason only, I must refrain from making any finding as to whether this was a forced marriage brought about by duress on the part of R's parents".

There is presently no legislation which addresses the question of "forced marriages" or marriages of a type where there is no real consent.

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