Muslim Cleric Convicted for Marrying Child Bride in Australia

Child Bride
Paula Bronstein/Getty

Ibrahim Omerdic has been convicted for marrying a child bride to a much older man under laws prohibiting forced marriage in Melbourne, Australia.

The 14-year-old was married to an unnamed man more than twenty years her senior in exchange for a $1,480 dowry at the Bosnian Islamic Society and Noble Park Mosque, the Herald Sun reports.

video of the ceremony shows the cleric instructing the girl that, “as a wife, you have a duty to obey your husband”. The groom, meanwhile, is advised of his obligation to provide the minor with a “sexual education”.

Omerdic seems to appreciate the substantial age difference between the groom and his bride, beginning the undercover proceedings by observing that the bride is “very young”.

Omerdic claimed the ceremony was not a real wedding and he only carried it out so the couple could be seen in public together, and that he had therefore done nothing wrong.

However, police discovered a Certificate of Islamic Marriage during their investigation. Magistrate Phillip Goldberg said he it was clear that Omerdic had taken steps to conceal the illegal wedding from the authorities, and he was “satisfied the prosecution has proved all elements of the charge”.

The girl’s “husband” has also pleaded guilty to forcing the girl to marry him, as part of a plea deal which saw two other charges, including one for sexual assault, dropped.

The Victorian Board of Imams disowned Omerdic in a brief statement: “As Australian Muslims we are required to observe and respect the laws of Australia.”

The Islamic Council of Victoria said that “marriage at a younger age is permitted in other countries and cultures”, but conceded that “this is not a justification for marriage below the legal age or child marriages here in Australia”.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

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