Why are some tribes still marrying in tribal marriage?
- by admin
Indigenous Australians, whose history includes the first recorded settlement of Australia, have long been part of the Australian Aboriginal community.
But with the arrival of settlers in the 18th century and the first contact with Europeans, the first wave of Australian Indigenous Australians were forced into marriage.
In 1890 the first Aboriginal marriage ceremony took place in the Pilbara region of New South Wales.
In the decades since, Aboriginal Australians have continued to be forced into marriages and in some cases forced to give up their cultural identity.
The first documented Aboriginal marriage took place at Woori (or Wooris) in Western Australia, in 1901.
As the Indian War broke out in 1904, Aboriginal women were forced to marry the British forces, while in the following years the forced marriage of women was a common practice among the indigenous population.
More recently, in 2010, a group of Aboriginal women from New South, South Australia, led by former WA Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann O’Callaghan, staged a protest outside a Melbourne hospital in protest at the forced marriages of women who had undergone the procedure.
It was during the Victorian Aboriginal women’s march in 2012 that a group from a neighbouring Aboriginal community organised a demonstration against forced marriage.
Aboriginal marriage has become a national issue in recent years, with the Victorian Government making the controversial decision to introduce a bill to legalise forced marriage in 2013.
“The Victorian Government has shown a clear preference for a marriage ceremony to be performed outside the hospital,” the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Andrew Robb, said at the time.
But the Victorian Human Rights Commission has criticised the Victorian government’s plan to legalises forced marriage and have called for a royal commission into the issue.
What is a forced marriage?
“When Aboriginal women are forced to undergo the procedure, they are often treated as a third party to a marriage,” the Human Rights Commissioner for Victoria, Jo-Anne Leech, told the ABC’s Q&A program in 2015.
She said that women in some communities were forced, and sometimes threatened, into marrying men who had been in custody for “non-compliance” with the marriage rules.
“When we speak to Aboriginal women, the common response is that they were coerced into marrying a man who was in jail, or who was living in their community.”
It’s been said that they feel they’re being treated as criminals, that they’re living in the wrong place, they’re not part of this society.
“We’re often told that when they come out of the ceremony, the wedding will be ‘settled’ and the man will be a free man, but that is not the case,” Ms Leech said.
Ms Leech’s comments come after Indigenous Australians led by the Reverend Mina Wilson staged a public protest in Melbourne in 2015 calling on the Victorian State Government to legalising forced marriage, and in February the Victorian High Court struck down a controversial law that prohibited Aboriginal women and girls from wearing hijabs.
Why do some Aboriginal couples choose forced marriage over marriage?
The reasons are varied.
Some Aboriginal couples have chosen forced marriage to save money.
Many Aboriginal couples also feel pressured into the marriage, as many Aboriginal people in the area have been told they will not be allowed to vote or participate in politics if they marry, or to be granted “indigenous status” in Victoria.
Others choose to marry in a bid to protect their culture.
While some Aboriginal people believe they are in a position of authority in their communities, the marriage ceremony itself is a form of cultural and spiritual initiation.
Marriage ceremonies are often carried out in a ceremony where the bride and groom stand up to the ceremony leader.
When the ceremony ends, the couple then walk away to a community gathering where the two members of the couple are introduced and then the ceremony is over.
Traditional marriages have been practiced by Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
But modern marriage ceremonies, which are usually conducted by non-Indigenous couples, have gained increasing attention recently.
In October, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $25 million funding package to develop and promote marriage ceremonies in remote communities.
There are now more than 15 Aboriginal wedding ceremonies in Victoria, including in Perth, the Gold Coast, and the Kimberley.
However, in the past, some Aboriginal weddings were considered “un-traditional”, as they were not part- or full-baptised, meaning they did not recognise the traditional ceremony, as a legal requirement.
Indigenous Australians, whose history includes the first recorded settlement of Australia, have long been part of the Australian Aboriginal community.But…