Judge orders tribunal to reconsider case of woman forced into arranged marriage

She had been subjected to an examination to establish her virginity and was also subjected to physical violence from her father
Judge orders tribunal to reconsider case of woman forced into arranged marriage

Ms Justice Burns found there was a failure by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal to engage in any kind of analysis regarding State support for her.

A 22-year-old woman who had to leave South Africa because her tribal leader father was forcing her into an arranged marriage to an older local chief must have her refused application for international protection here reconsidered, the High Court has ruled.

Ms Justice Tara Burns sent the woman's case back for re-determination by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) which had refused her application.

The judge was satisfied the IPAT had erred in its analysis of the 2015 International Protection Act covering circumstances where a person at risk of persecution in one part of a country could find sanctuary in another part of that country.

The woman arrived here in March 2018 when she applied for protection on the grounds that she was the victim of gender-based violence and threats, arising from her efforts to avoid an arranged marriage.

Her father had arranged it to the head of another family who was much older than her with the purpose of settling a dispute between the families. She left South Africa to avoid this marriage and claimed that she could not return as she would be subjected to severe punishment from her father for having run away.

It was the second time she had run away to avoid the proposed marriage.

Her application for international protection was refused and she appealed to the IPAT which accepted she was chosen to take part in the arranged marriage.

It was also accepted she had been subjected to an examination to establish her virginity and was also subjected to physical violence from her father when she said she didn't want to get married to the other chief.

The IPAT found there was not adequate state protection in South Africa for her but she could be internally located in that country to avoid persecution.

Cape Town was suggested because it was argued she could be anonymous there and get a job. But she said her father would find her and she would find it difficult to get a job and end up on the streets and in prostitution.

The IPAT refused her protection claim and she brought High Court proceedings.

Ms Justice Tara Burns' ruling

In her judgment, Ms Justice Burns found there was a failure by the IPAT to engage in any kind of analysis regarding State support for her.

The judge failed to see how it came to the conclusion she could stay in Cape Town having regard to her personal circumstances, including lack of family support, and the general conditions prevailing on the ground.

She would not quash the decision, as sought by the woman, but remitted it to the IPAT for re-determination.

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