Nina Dethloff: "Child Brides on the Move - Legal Responses to Culture Clashes"


In Germany as in many other European countries, migration and the recent influx of refugees, in particular, has led to a raising number of child marriages. Girls are frequently married at a very early age either before leaving their home countries or while fleeing. This happens largely in accordance with the laws of their countries of origin. In Germany, the increasing presence of married young migrant girls has led to a heated public debate and to the introduction of the Bill to Combat Child Marriages which recently passed in the German Bundestag and will be debated on July 7, 2017, in the Bundesrat.

The presentation examines the phenomenon of child marriages among refugees and migrants. It critically evaluates the current law as well as the proposed reform taking into consideration diverging interests and guarantees. At stake is the protection against forced marriages and the safeguarding of the freedom to marry as well as the recognition and protection of a potentially existing family life including children already born out of the relationship. While in an increasingly globalized world different cultural traditions and concepts as well as religious beliefs and legal norms have to be taken into account and respected, some values and norms are deemed to be universal. This requires the careful drawing of a fine line in the case of marriages of minors.

Prof. Dr. Nina Dethloff

Nina Dethloff holds the Chair for Private Law, Private International Law, Comparative Law and European Private Law and is Director of the Institute for German, European and International Family Law at the University of Bonn. From October 2012 until September 2013, Nina Dethloff was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”. Since October 2015 she is executive director of the Käte Hamburger Center.