Syrian migrant girls in Germany have been discovered to be child brides, but some youth workers and Muslim leaders said the marriages should not be split up.
Youth workers found the two Syrian girls now living in Germany had been married in their homelands whilst under the age of 16, suggesting a worrying rise in underage marriages due to the migrant crisis.
Under German law marriages are only legal over the age of 18, although can recognised in exceptional cases for over 16s.
Usually marriages involving adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16, even if they can provide legal documentation from their home country, are not recognised.
About 1,500 cases are known to the authorities and recorded with the Foreigners’ Central Register.
But there could be more, unknown cases.
The latest two young couples, who settled in Freising, near Munich, have been in Germany since last year, but only came to light after the area’s Youth Office found out about them from other asylum seekers.
Head of the Youth Office Arabella Gittler-Reichel has stated that the two girls, whose identities have not been revealed, had been given a guardian who look after the women and give them opportunities to learn German and attend school.
While key figures within the Muslim community in Germany have rejected the idea of child marriages, Islet Unal, part of the Islamic community in Freising, denied all should be separated.
He said: “We are in favour of people getting married in their twenties.”
But added that while child marriages should be dissolved he added: “If they were mentally mature for the marriage, you should leave it be. A separation could be another catastrophe, because marriage also provides protection.”
But Imam Malik Usman Naveed from the Ahmadiyya community’s Al-Mahdi mosque said: “Our Muslims are to follow the the Qu’ran, but they should follow German laws as well.”
The refugee co-ordinator in Freising Teresa Degelmann has also rejected child marriages in principle but also added that the cultural traditions of their native country should be respected.
“As the persons have been married in the culture of their home countries,” she said. “We must take their situation as it is.”
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