Nearly four years after the federal government passed legislative amendments aimed at combating forced and servile marriages, charges were laid for the first time in the Melbourne Magistrates Court last week.

In 2015 in New South Wales a 27-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in jail for the persistent sexual abuse of a child after "marrying" a 12-year-old girl, and the imam who conducted the "marriage" was found guilty of procuring a child for the purpose of sexual abuse. The imam was fined $500 and his religious visa for residence in Australia was cancelled. That case was heard under New South Wales criminal law rather than under the federal forced marriage legislation because the defence argued that the marriage was consensual and at that stage, age was not considered a factor in whether or not a marriage was consensual -- a loophole that has since been closed.