A German court has said that refugees who were married as children have no right to family reunification in the country. Child marriages are becoming more common among Syrian refugees.
A Berlin court has ruled that refugees who are married underage have no entitlement to family reunification, AFP reported. The court backed up a previous decision by the German Consulate in Istanbul, which prevented a Syrian woman from joining her husband in Germany.
The Syrian woman, born in 2000, married her husband who was around 9 years older than her in January 2015 in Syria, with the acceptance of her father. In 2015, her husband fled to Germany and was granted refugee status. She wanted to reunite with her husband in Germany.
The Syrian authorities had recognized the marriage as legal, as the law allows marriages from the age of 13. German authorities did not recognize it.
Rate of child marriages growing higher among Syrian refugees
According to the organization Girls not Brides, 13 percent of Syrian women were married before 18 prior to the beginning or the Syrian conflict. The Syrian war has caused more and more Syrian women to be married under 18. The organization reports that these refugee families in not only Syria, but also Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey marry off their daughters to "protect their daughters from harm while providing them with a level of financial stability." For example, 41 percent of young refugee Syrian women were married before 18 in Lebanon. In some conservative circles, marriage is seen as a way to preserve the virginity or "honor" of the Syrian girls.
According to Jordan's court system, child marriage among Syrians is also on the rise in Jordan. The percentage of child marriages among Syrians in Jordan rose from 15 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in April this year.Girls not Brides said that child marriages have a "devastating" impact on these Syrian refugee girls, as they face little education and economic opportunities along with little freedom and the lack of chances to socialize with children their own age. Also if there is a divorce, the girls could be ostracized in their communities.