Confronting video footage has been publicly released that allegedly shows a teenager being married off to a Muslim man 20 years her senior.
The disturbing video was screened in a Melbourne court and broadcast exclusively by 7News.
According to police, the video allegedly shows a 14-year-old girl being married to a 34-year-old man at a mosque in Noble Park, the Herald Sun reports.
The footage was shot on a mobile phone and allegedly shows the girl, her mother, her ‘husband’ and prominent Muslim cleric Ibrahim Omerdic. Mr Omerdic can reportedly be heard telling the young girl to “obey” her husband in the footage.
“If (your husband) is happy with something, do it. If (your husband) is not happy with something, don’t do it,” he tells the girl.
The phrase “She’s very young” can also be heard.
Mr Omerdic has pleaded not guilty to causing a forced marriage, saying the event was merely a blessing ceremony in order for the couple to associate in public.
News.com.au also reports that Mr Omerdic told police he thought the girl was about 17.
Adnan Bilgrami, the son-in-law of Mr Omerdic, explained to the Melbourne Magistrates Court that the cleric was not in support of forced marriage.
“The whole concept of a forced marriage or an underage marriage would be abhorrent to him,” he said.