In anticipation that in the end they will have to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees, mostly Syrians, Germany is taking proper precautions. No one would have imagined years ago that the Bundestag would have to legislate on the marriage of girls, but the number of cases is skyrocketing and Angela Merkel’s government has finally had to adopt a bill banning the marriage of children under 16 years.
The phenomenon is still marginal. The German Government estimates the number of foreign children married and resident in the country at 1,475, of which 361 do not reach the age of 14. More than half come from Syria, and the others from Afghanistan and Iraq. In these countries, as in almost all the Muslim majority of the world, the marriage of girls is accepted by tradition and by Islamic law. It is always about forced weddings, in which the relatives give the little ones or adolescents much older men.
The new German legislation, which will also apply to marriages of minors legally contracted abroad, even provides that a girl who has been forced to marry could be separated from her family to be covered by federal social services. In many cases law enforcement will not be easy, but it is a warning to both the million Muslims who have entered the country in the last two years and apply for refugee status, as well as for Islamic community imams.
Why does the Koran allow marriage to girls? The custom, typical of patriarchal societies, has always been blessed by Islam because it connects with the Mohammedan conception of marriage, which demands a complete docility towards the husband. But the most compelling argument is often the example of Muhammad. The founder of Islam was monogamous while his first wife, Khadija, lived, but at death he had at least three women. Of them her favorite was undoubtedly the girl who was given in marriage by who later succeeded to the prophet. With Aisha, the daughter of the future first caliph, Abu Bakr, Mohammed was married when the bride was six or seven years old, although, according to Islamic tradition, the marriage was not consummated until it turned nine.