Women's rights campaigner Dr Eman Sharobeem is a finalist for the 2015 Australian of the Year awards after receiving a nomination as a New South Wales Local Hero.
Egyptian-born Dr Sharobeem is the director of the Immigrant Women's Health Service in western Sydney.
Her work campaigning to improve the health, welfare and status of women came from personal experience - Dr Sharobeem was forced into an arranged marriage to her first cousin at the age of 15.
"I lived a life of absolute violence," she told 702 ABC Sydney.
"I studied hidden away from my husband."
For 14 years she endured a violent marriage, finding herself widowed with two young sons at the age of 29.
Freed from the shackles of a tyrannical husband, Dr Sharobeem pursued university studies, gaining two doctorates and a masters degree.
Determined that her own experiences would not define her, Dr Sharobeem was inspired to change others' lives for the better.
As chief executive of the Immigrant Women's Health Service, Dr Sharobeem has been recognised many times for her outstanding contributions to women's rights.
"My goal is always to educate the community, engage in a conversation, have a dialogue about girls' safety and girls' future," she said.
"I am absolutely delighted and honoured," Dr Sharobeem said of the nomination.
"Anything I have achieved was because of the support of wonderful teachers and wonderful human beings who held my hand through difficult times."
But despite her efforts, Dr Sharobeem said not enough was being done to stop forced marriages of young women in Australia.
"We're not yet near the right approach against this criminal act against children," she said.
Dr Sharobeem is encouraged by the support of Margie Abbott who has shown a close interest in the plight of young girls forced into arranged marriages in Australia.
The Immigrant Women's Health Service was established in 1987 to address the needs of immigrant and refugee women in regard to health information and health services.
The service, which runs centres in Fairfield and Cabramatta has been involved in stopping honour killings and freeing women from forced marriages in which they were held in sexual servitude.