Germany Legalizes Child Marriages Performed Under Sharia Law
German Federal Court rules weddings accepted under German law if performed 'legally'
The German Federal Court has ruled that child marriages will be legal in Germany, provided they are carried out "legally" under Sharia Law.
The bombshell new ruling could have implications on the way child marriages, conducted legally under laws from overseas, are treated in the country.
Despite a new law in 2017 to raise the legal age for marriage to 18 in Germany, this latest verdict will mean the age limit will only apply to those who "follow" German law.
The court decreed that all future cases of child marriage must be examined on an individual basis to determine whether they were performed under international or religious laws, rather than have a blanket ban on adults marrying children in the country.
The ruling comes from a controversial case involving a Syrian man who was separated from his underage "wife" when he arrived with her in Germany as asylum seekers in August 2015.
The marriage was declared legal in Germany by the court due to the fact that the man married the child under Sharia Law in his home country.
According to Breitbart, the pair, cousins, were married in February 2015 while the man was aged 21 and the girl aged only 14 in a marriage procedure that was done under sharia legally in Syria.
The marriage was considered invalid by German authorities, however, where the marriage age was 16 at the time.
After his “wife” had been taken into separate care due to her status as a minor, the Syrian man complained to German courts which initially granted him weekend access to her with a district court claiming the marriage had not been forced.
The case was then sent up to the Federal Supreme Court which has now ruled that the marriage between the pair should be examined on the basis of its legal status in Syria.
Such cases in the future should be looked at on an individual basis, the court said, instead of a blanket refusal to recognize them — as was the procedure previously.
In Germany, protection of marriage and family are enshrined in the Basic Law, as well as the principle of equal treatment, and both could be violated under the ban on child marriages.
Since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, Germany has seen a huge surge in the number of child marriage cases with at least 1,000 cases being known as far back as 2016.
Germany passed a law to raise the marriage age to 18 last year to combat child marriages but the new ruling could be a blow to the legislation.
Sweden, which also took in a large number of migrants since 2015, has also banned child marriages.
The Swedish ban has had somewhat more success, however, having recently convicted a couple in 2018 for attempting to force their underage daughter into an arranged marriage.