German cabinet proposes national ban on child marriages

DW – April 5, 2017

Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday agreed on a proposal to outlaw child marriages. The recommended legislation, drawn up by Justice Minister Heiko Maas, sets the minimum age for marriage in Germany at 18 years and nullifies all existing marriages where a participant was under the age of 16 at the time of the ceremony. Courts would also be able to annul marriages in which one person was between 16 and 18 years old.

“We cannot tolerate any marriages that might harm the natural development of minors,” Maas said, adding that children “do not belong in the registry office or at the altar.”

The age of consent for all marriages in Germany was previously 16, with 18-year-olds allowed to marry 16-year-olds in some cases.

The justice minister said the bill would tighten marriage laws being aimed particularly at marriages concluded outside of Germany.

According to the Cologne-based Central Register of Foreign Nationals (AZR), by the end of July 2016, almost 1,500 minors with non-German backgrounds living in the country were registered as married – 361 of them aged under 14.