Berlin, April 5: A major crackdown is about to happen in Germany today. The cabinet finally decides to agree a ban on child marriages after the recent mass refugee influx brought in many couples where one or both partners were aged under18. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said, "We must not tolerate any marriages that harm minors in their development. The underaged must be protected as much as possible."
It will allow youth welfare workers to take into care under aged girls even if they were legally married abroad and, if deemed necessary, separate them from their husbands.
The draft law would also punish with a fine any attempts to marry minors in traditional or religious rather than state ceremonies. The new law, set to receive parliamentary approval by July, is seen as a protective move especially for girls by annulling foreign marriages involving minors.
The reason behind such a ban is the huge influx of refugees from ISIS and terrorism hit countries migrate to Germany which often leads to child marriages. Out of 1,152 girls, 664 came from Syria, 157 from Afghanistan and 100 from Iraq.
Thus, the marital age bar has been raised from 16 to 18 years.
Facts and recent developments:
1. The actual number of child marriages in Germany is believed to be much higher than the official statistics suggest because many are being concealed.
2. In May 2016, an appeals court in Bamberg recognized the marriage of a 15-year-old Syrian girl to her 21-year-old cousin. The ruling effectively legalized Sharia child marriages in Germany. (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.)
3. A proposed law was submitted to the German Parliament in November, 2016, it would require all Youth Welfare Offices in Germany to report child marriages as soon as they become aware of them, and to bring all such cases before family courts so that they can be annulled. Judges would be allowed discretion to make exceptions only in cases where the wife is already close to the age of majority.
4. The Germany Cabinet will finally pass the bill today on 5 April, 2017.