Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court: Children are to be protected, but so are marriages

The way young and very young people, especially women, are forced into marriage every year across the globe is a human rights scandal. The causes – culture, religion, social norms, poor living conditions – are difficult to get rid of. Prosperity and education help, that’s for sure.

The Federal Republic must deal directly with the consequences of these practices. What happens to such marriages if they are to be continued in this country? Six years ago, politicians decided to take a tough stance. Marriages are not marriages if one of the partners was under 16 at the time of marriage. They are then void.

The project was well received. It followed the large refugee movements to the EU in 2015 and 2016, when, in addition to accommodation – to put it mildly – ​​cultural differences were again increasingly made an issue. Almost everyone agreed on the general annulment of marriages between minors. Never, not with us.


Yearsthe spouses must be at least that old.

The Federal Constitutional Court did not declare the law of that time void, but declared it to be incompatible with the freedom of marriage protected by fundamental rights. Right-wing circles will be outraged that they are bowing to Islam. And leftists could criticize that once again everything is at the expense of women.

A compromise would have been possible in Parliament

In principle, however, the court approved the request of the legislature. He can set a limit that must not be undercut. However, if the marriage is made into a non-marriage, care must be taken to ensure that favorable consequences such as maintenance claims are not simply lost. And it must not be ruled out that the partners can continue their marriage when they are of legal age.

This is a compromise that would have been possible in one way or another in Parliament. After all, under the Basic Law, people under the age of 16 could also marry in Germany until the mid-1970s. In addition, experts had almost unanimously warned against adopting a blanket regulation that would deprive minors of their rights with regard to marital claims.

But there was only the tightened solution, which, as is now being shown, was not just. Marriage is harmful to minors, but it can still offer protection. A reasonable balance would have watered down the symbol that was being called for at the time. Politicians let themselves drift and forgot the people to whom their regulations applied.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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