This study explores the issue of forced and underage marriage in Aotearoa New Zealand. It documents the stories of survivors of actual and threatened forced marriage. It also records the survivors‟ analyses of their experiences and their recommendations for changes that may deter the practice in New Zealand. This study postulates that forced marriage is not a cultural issue per se, but a form of violence against women, shaped by socio-political forces and practised by some. It examines notions of „honour‟ and „shame‟ which are often inextricably linked to the issue of forced marriage. The study goes on to provide an overview of genderbased violence in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well as diaspora communities internationally and in New Zealand. This research study is heavily influenced by Gender And Development (GAD) thought and by various epistemologies including postcolonial feminism, subaltern studies and participatory action research. As such, it emphasises self-reflexivity and focuses on „gender relations‟ rather than „women‟ as the category of analysis.
The views and potential contributions of eleven stakeholder agency participants in terms of addressing the issue of forced marriage are also included in this study. The study also examines relevant existing New Zealand legislation in light of the country‟s international obligations regarding marriage. Specific recommendations on both social and legislative reforms are provided in an attempt to promote a collaborative, multi-sector response to address the issue from the perspectives of both intervention and prevention.
In conclusion, this study, which is the first of its kind in New Zealand, hopes to shed light on an issue that is a human rights violation. It aims to promote action to deter the practice and to progress the rights of ethnic minority women in New Zealand without fuelling an anti-minority discourse. Finally, it attempts to fill a number of knowledge gaps in academic, policy and legislative literatures.