Foreign Ideas about ‘Child Marriage’?

On 4 September 2019, a Frankfurt court ruled that Germany must recognize marriages involving minors that had been concluded within the EU. The case involved a couple who had married in Bulgaria and now resides in Germany. The bride was 17 when she wed. The case throws into sharp relief hidden assumptions within the broader debate about ‘child marriage’ that has occupied German politicians and commentators over the last two years. These assumptions matter because they reflect broader European and international popular and political discussions as well as laws. But they also matter because they ignore a number of important developments over the last century across much of the world in reforming family law.

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How Old is 14 Really? On Child Marriage and Case-by-Case Justice

A bizarrely archaic hiccup for old-school historicists, curiously ambivalent and legally intriguing to others, child marriages currently enjoy an unforeseen centrality in Germany’s public life. Europe today is hard pressed to look beyond its shores for instructive twenty-first century survival scripts. India’s past offers some lessons on child marriages for the current German predicament.

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‘Girls belong in school, and not in front of the altar’: Is the German Bill on child marriages violating international law?

As much as international law categorizes child marriage as harmful practice due to its potential wide ranging negative effects on education, health, increased risk of violence and sexually transmitted diseases, and poverty, the regulation of already existing marriages should not aim to be aligned with the age of marriage. Already existing child marriages have to be treated differently, as they already created a lived reality for the partners and cannot just be reversed, as this might end up in unwanted legal and practical consequences for the child. Therefore, with regards to already existing marriages, it is a misconception that the only possible way to end child marriage is to actually ‘end’ child marriage.

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