Questions on harmful practices - Children’s Convention from the United Nations

Please provide information on the measures taken to:

Question 17(a)

  1. Stop child marriage and raise awareness of the negative effects of such marriages on the physical and mental health and well-being of children, especially girls, with a view to ending this harmful practice;

Reply to 17(a)

In New Zealand, forced marriage (through intimidation, threats or violence) has been criminalised through the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018. This amendment came into force in 2019 and is specifically aimed at preventing people being subjected to forced or coerced marriage, particularly women and children. Note also the reply to paragraph 8 on the minimum age of marriage.

Given New Zealand has very minimal marriages occurring where either the bride and/or groom is aged under 18 years (a total of 7 marriages of 19,071 that were registered in 2019), the Government does not have a formal awareness-raising campaign on this issue. However, Oranga Tamariki will ensure that any young person who discloses a complaint of potential or actual forced marriage, is supported and assisted in making decisions to ensure they are being adequately protected from potential harm.

Question 17(b)

  1. Develop and implement a rights-based health-care protocol for intersex children to ensure that no child is subjected to unnecessary surgery or treatment and that the child’s free, prior and informed consent is obtained for necessary interventions and educate medical and psychological professionals on the negative consequences of unnecessary medical interventions on intersex children.

Reply to 17(b)

The Paediatric Society was directed by MOH in 2017 to set up an Intersex Working Group to develop guidelines and protocol for infants born intersex, based on newborn principles of best practice. Next steps for this work programme for children and young people are currently being discussed with relevant stakeholders.

In 2020, Oranga Tamariki updated their Practice Guidelines to assist social workers when responding to cases involving Female Genital Mutilation (an illegal practice under the Crimes Act 1961).

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