Ahmad Chamma, a Lebanese Muslim university student accused of marrying in an Islamic ceremony and having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl, was formally refused bail by a Sydney court on Friday. The man, 26, was living in Australia on a student visa when police arrested and charged him with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with an underage child.
AU NEWS (h/t Marina) The man, 26, allegedly met a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter region in 2013 and became involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with her. The pair then allegedly moved to a house in Sydney’s southwest, where they continued the relationship. Police claim the man and child were married in an Islamic ceremony in NSW earlier this year and the girl is now 13.
He was charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child between 10 and 14 years. The sexual assaults took place between January 1 and February 4.
Wearing a striped polo shirt and a black beard, the man made a brief appearance at Burwood Local Court on Friday and spoke via an Arabic interpreter. He made no application for bail and it was formally refused.
The court heard he will make a bail application during his next court appearance on February 12 at the same court. NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the case was brought to the attention of authorities by Centrelink, after the man had tried to obtain guardianship of the girl.
Ms Goward said anecdotal evidence suggests forced marriages between children and adults was an ongoing issue among Sydney communities. “This is a very secretive practice … but it is not an unknown practice,” she said. “I understand there are actually a significant number of unlawful, unregistered marriages to underaged Muslim girls in NSW, particularly in western Sydney, southwest Sydney and the Blue Mountains.”
The girl has been taken into state care.
UPDATE: Child bride’s marriage was permitted by father, say police. (Must have been a Muslim)
SMH The father of 12-year-old girl gave his blessing for her to be ”married” to a Lebanese university student in the Hunter region earlier this year, police will allege. Detectives investigating the case said the father was ”shocked” that his daughter’s 26-year-old husband was arrested and charged with more than two dozen child sex offences last week.
Child abuse squad detectives spent much of Thursday and Friday interviewing the victim’s father and allege he does not believe there was anything wrong with the pair’s union. Charges have not been laid against the father at this stage.
Police will allege the girl was married to the accused during an Islamic ceremony in her father’s backyard. But detectives say their union was not official. The child bride then moved to south-west Sydney with her ”husband”, after they were given permission by the girl’s father.