Source: Germany Imports Child Marriage
German authorities are debating the contours of a new law that would crack down on child marriages after it emerged that some 1,500 underage brides are now living in the country.
The married minors are among the more than one million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East who entered Germany in 2015.
The German Interior Ministry, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, recently revealed that 1,475 married children are known to be living in Germany as of July 31, 2016 — including 361 children who are under the age of 14.
Most of the married children are from Syria (664), Afghanistan (157) and Iraq (100). Nearly 80% (1,152) are girls. The true number of child marriages in Germany is believed to be much higher than the official statistics suggest because many are being concealed.
German law currently allows minors aged 16 or over to get married if their partner is of legal age and the parents or guardians consent. Germany does not recognize marriages contracted abroad if a partner is under 14, but German family courts have discretion to determine the validity of marriages concluded abroad by minors who are 14 or older.
In May, an appeals court in Bamberg recognized the marriage of a 15-year-old Syrian girl to her 21-year-old cousin. The court ruled that the marriage was valid because it was contracted in Syria, where such marriages are allowed according to Islamic Sharia law, which does not set any age limit to marriage. The ruling effectively legalized Sharia child marriages in Germany.
The case came about after the couple arrived at a refugee shelter in Aschaffenburg in August 2015. The Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) refused to recognize their marriage and separated the girl from her husband. The couple filed a lawsuit and a family court ruled in favor of the Youth Welfare Office, which claimed to be the girl’s legal guardian.
The court in Bamberg overturned that ruling. It determined that, according to Sharia law, the marriage is valid because it has already been consummated, and therefore the Youth Welfare Office has no legal authority to separate the couple.
The ruling — which has been described as a “crash course in Syrian Islamic marriage law” — ignited a firestorm of criticism. Some accused the court in Bamberg of applying Sharia law over German law to legalize a practice that is banned in Germany.
“Religious or cultural justifications obscure the simple fact that older, perverse men are abusing young girls,” said Rainer Wendt, head of the German police union.
Monika Michell of Terre des Femmes, a women’s rights group that campaigns against child marriage, said: “A husband cannot be the legal guardian of a child bride because he is involved in a sexual relationship with her — a very obvious conflict of interest.”
The Justice Minister of Hesse, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, asked: “If underage persons — quite rightly — are not allowed to buy a beer, why should the lawmakers allow children to make such profound decisions related to marriage?”
Others said the ruling would open the floodgates of cultural conflict in Germany, as Muslims would view it as a precedent to push for the legalization of other Islamic practices, including polygamy, in the country.
In Baden-Württemberg, the number of known child marriages jumped seven-fold in the past two years, from 26 in 2013 to 181 at the end of 2015. Of those, 162 are girls, and 18 are younger than 15 years of age.
The exact number of child marriages in Germany is unknown, partly because German authorities appear to have lost track of the identities or whereabouts of potentially hundreds of thousands of migrants. Of the 1.1 million migrants who entered Germany in 2015, only 477,000 have applied for asylum. The German government blames the discrepancy on an accounting problem, but others say that many migrants have gone underground to avoid being deported because they are not legitimate refugees fleeing war zones but economic migrants seeking a better life in Germany.
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It’s in the U.S. too and will only increase with mass Muslim immigration.
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