The trend of underage migrant girls entering Germany married to older men is on the rise, with the city of Berlin recording 100 child marriages this year alone.
While the majority of underage migrants flowing into Germany are young boys, underage girls tend to come as ‘child brides’ to older migrant men who are more often adults.
In the German capital of Berlin a new report claims that the local government has registered around 100 child marriages and the trend shows little signs of slowing down, reports broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party member and Berlin Senator for Justice Thomas Heilmann confirmed that the 100 child marriage number was correct.
Senator Heilmann also admitted that he expected with a continued influx of migrants the numbers would inevitably rise. Citing a need to toughen the laws that recognise child marriages if they are conducted overseas, Mr. Heilmann said that there should be a ban on marriages of anyone under the age of 18.
The State Youth Assistance Committee and the National Office for Refugees have come out against child marriages saying that they will refuse custody of any migrants under 16 to their much older husbands. This is a welcome move says Mr. Heilmann who plans to discuss the matter with socialist Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas on the 5th of September during a meeting between the Federal and Berlin state governments.
The CDU politician intends to enshrine in German law that any underage marriages, whether officiated through foreign courts or religious sharia courts, will be immediately voided on German soil.
As Germany continues to receive an increasing number of underage migrants, the state is facing new problems. Issues from how to deal with delinquency and crime with young boys, migrants that cannot be deported due to their status as minors, and young girls trying to escape the misery of camps in Turkey by marrying much older men.
There have been reports that in Germany in total there could be well over 1,000 child marriages, the vast majority of them between young girls and older men. Groups like UNICEF have expressed deep concern over the issue, with the CEO Christian Schneider saying, “for the welfare of refugee children who live in Germany, the state has a particular responsibility to protect – for them the same principles apply as for German children.”
The situation is even worse in some regions of Germany like North Rhine-Westphalia, which has registered almost 200 underage marriages. Many are also concerned with child brides coming from Turkey in the wake of a new ruling from the Turkish constitutional court that could legalise sexual relations between adults and children as young as twelve.