A regional German court has recognised as valid the marriage of a 14-year-old Syrian girl to her 20-year-old cousin
A regional German court has recognised as valid the marriage of a 14-year-old Syrian girl to her 20-year-old cousin, despite the legal age for marriage in Germany being 16. The case represents a landmark ruling, with the Federal Court set to adjudicate on the implications for the country as a whole.
Among the hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving in European countries over the eighteen months have been a number of underage wives, some as young as eleven, others already mothers. But although most European countries stipulate that a girl must be 16 to marry, the authorities seem unsure what to do with young bride migrants.
In what is likely to become a landmark ruling, the Oberlandesgericht Bamberg (Higher Regional Court in Bamberg, Bavaria) has this week decided that the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 20-year-old husband must be recognised as the wedding has already taken place, was recognised as legal in their native Syria, and was conducted in accordance with Sunni marriage rites.
It had been asked to rule on whether the husband was the girl’s legal guardian in lieu of her parents, after the girl had been removed from an asylum centre where they were both living and placed in a centre for teenaged girls.
Appealing a previous ruling which had granted weekend visitation rights to the husband, the local Youth Work Officer, who had guardianship of the girl, requested the visits be restricted to three hours a week to prevent intercourse between the couple.
But the court disagreed. It said it could find no evidence that the marriage was a forced one, and granted guardianship instead to the husband.