Media Awards: Spotlight on the 2017 Television Winner

Each year the Amnesty International Australia Media Awards acknowledge those Australian media stories that have presented a fair and balanced report of a human rights issue, highlighted hidden abuses and encouraged an audience’s greater understanding of a human rights issue.

With just over a week left before entries close for this year’s 2021 awards, we’re celebrating winners from previous years’ to demonstrate the importance of a free press.

Media Awards’ 2017 Television Winner

Winner of the 2017 Amnesty International Media Awards Television category were Elise Potaka, Tim Anastasi and Joel Stillone for their piece ‘Forced to Marry’ for SBS Viceland.

‘Forced to Marry’ explores the forced marriages of underage girls in Australia, to grooms often twice if not three times their age.

Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) says:

Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

In Australia forced marriage was criminalised in 2014, giving police more power to persecute the families and religious leaders engaging in the practice, however, while reporting of forced marriages has increased, convictions are still not common. ‘Forced to Marry’ asks what solutions are out there for girls being forced into marriages by the Australian government, in schools and within the community.

It follows the story of Bee Al Darraj who left her family behind to escape being forced into an engagement, and her connection to her sisters who were forced into marriage at around age 13 to 26 year old and 32 year old men. ‘Forced to Marry’ is an important insight into human rights abuses in Australia and the communities who are affected by them.

Television Judge of the 2021 Media Awards, Stela Todorovic says of the importance of free press:

The world we live in has never been more uncertain and that is why it is more important than ever to secure freedom of press. The pandemic, the vaccine race, the lockdowns. We deserve to know the origins of the pandemic, we deserve to know who is making decisions and what is driving them. We need journalists to dig deep and get to the bottom of what really goes on behind closed doors.”

Stela Todorovic