Mahesh Bindra –
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said recently that forced marriages have no place in New Zealand, nor do any of the people who adhere to such traditions.
I agree with him that anyone who immigrates here, or takes refuge in New Zealand, must comply by our laws, traditions and culture and abuse of women is against the law, traditions and culture of New Zealand, the land many of us now call home.
At New Zealand First we believe that National’s fast and furious, no questions asked open-door immigration is importing a landslide of problems into New Zealand, which we have warned would happen, including coercive, illegal behaviour around forced marriages.
“Immigration at the current level of 114,000 people a year, is out of control. There is clearly not enough scrutiny to determine the true intentions of people coming here,” Mr Peters, who was recently elected to Parliament from Northland in March 2015, said.
At New Zealand First, we believe that individuals wanting to live or take refuge here should be interviewed and assessed on their true intentions because the cost of open slather immigration is high for the taxpayer as agencies deal with the fallout from mistreatment and physical and psychological abuse.
The Police are now on the alert and are being told to be aware of coercive relationships, dowry-related abuse, bride-burning and acid attacks. If police have got to this point then immigration has gone too far. It must be wound back.
New Zealand First has already responded to calls from Shakti, which supports victims especially in the ethnic community, and we support the call for better laws to battle this imported problem. We want a law that states 16 year olds and 17 year olds can only marry with special dispensation from a Family Court judge.
As a community we must support this call because we have either chosen to live in New Zealand for the betterment of our families or to escape a life that no one ever wants for their children and families.
Our countries of birth are now expected to put an end to forced marriages too, given that United Nations has resolved to work towards the elimination of forced child marriages at its General Assembly last year based on a resolution and report from 2013.
New Zealand has ratified UN conventions, and their optional protocols, that ensures we should be empowering our women, their families and our communities by removing all barriers to their safety.
It is right for us to take care of our young women and treat them with respect whilst respecting the law, traditions and culture of the land we now call home.
Mahesh Bindra is Member of Parliament on New Zealand First List and the Party’s Spokesperson for Corrections, Ethnic Affairs and Customs. New Zealand Parliament now has three Members born, raised and educated in India, the other two being Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (since November 2008) and Dr Parmjeet Parmar (2011).