Over 70 incidents have been reported wherein Sydney child brides are sent overseas for forced marriages.

Children from Middle Eastern families across the city are scared and have confessed to their teachers and principals that their parents send girls as young as nine overseas to marry much older partners by force. The cases have been filed to a government-run child protection helpline in the past two years. Australia’s Family and Community Services helpline has recorded the matter involving child bride trafficking of children, mostly between 14 and 16.

According to reports, most of the young girls are sent to Afghanistan, Lebanon and Pakistan for counselors and other school staff members. NSW Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard declared the practice “barbaric and cruel” and has requested the federal government to take relevant action to stop the same and offer housing facilities to the victims.

He also added that religious experts must take the responsibility to educate local people about the matter and teach them not to conduct such practices as it is wrong.

“They should talk to their communities and make sure they understand it’s completely unacceptable and criminal,” he said, according to The Daily Telegraph. “One youth home service — which has children from interstate, overseas and a number of children from Sydney — says this practice is rife.’ They told me they could fill their 65 beds with children who are escaping forced marriages. We have to get something done — it’s a tsunami of children out there seeking help.”

In her confession, one of the Sydney child brides, 12, said that she has been asked to marry her dad’s cousin once she turned 13 on her birthday while a nine-year-old girl admitted that her mom has told her to move to Pakistan and marry over there.

A similar incident was reported in early 2016 when a mass child marriage function video was obtained from northern India. In the footage, a 10-year-old girl cried while her father helped her walk through the ceremony while other children looked confused and disturbed.