Young migrants in New Zealand say the #MeToo movement has passed them by.
High school students will march in Auckland's CBD tomorrow to highlight their vulnerability to sexual assault and the distinct risks faced by people with migrant backgrounds.
The Future Without Violence Youth March is organised by the youth wing of migrant advocacy organisation Shakti, which says young New Zealanders with migrant or refugee backgrounds are vulnerable to excessive family control, fetishisation, and marrying young under duress.
Papatoetoe High School student Ranisha Chand, who is in Year 12, said the global #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment had been a good platform for addressing rape culture and issues of consent.
"But I believe that it has not included the migrant culture at some points," she said.
"It does not bring in light the issues faced my migrants in terms of their cultural practices. Isolation, honour-based violence, language barriers and other factors are yet to be addressed."
It was assumed that forced marriage did not occur in New Zealand, she said. Yet Shakti had dealt with around 75 cases, of which half involved girls aged 16 or 17 years old.
"For us high school students this act is totally unacceptable and therefore we want to bring the issue in light and tell youth that if this is happening to you, it is okay to ask for help," she said.
Around 20 to 30 forced marriages are believed to occur in New Zealand a year, and Parliament is now considering a law change to stamp it out.
It will require 16 and 17 year-olds who want to be married, enter a civil union or become a de facto couple to get consent from a judge rather than their parents.
Forced marriage was poorly understood in New Zealand, Chand said. It was often confused with arranged marriages, which she said involved free and willing consent.
"In one case, a woman dialled 111 and asked for help, no one believed her because she was 21 and was questioned how can a 21 year old get forced to marry someone as she was and adult and had the right to choose.
"I mean, this case highlighted how uneducated we are about forced marriage."
Shakti has a list of changes which it believes will help address some of these issues.
It wants sexual consent education to begin earlier, to be more culturally sensitive, and to include education on consent between friends and family.
It also wants better training on consent for counsellors, teachers and youth workers. And it wants better resourcing of organisations that support sexual violence survivors.
The march begins at 1pm at Britomart and will end at Aotea Square.