A Clash of Civilizations: An Overview on Child Brides and How the Syrian Refugee Crisis is Forcing Europe to Follow its Laws or Follow Another's

Author:Jessica Smith
Position:St. Thomas University School of Law
Pages:3-39
SUMMARY

Everyday, all around the world millions of women and children are suffering from the effects child marriage. A child marriage occurs when a female child is forced to marry an adult male. These marriages are typically the result of poverty, religion, and cultural norms. One of the areas with the most prevalent amount of child brides is the countries throughout the Middle East including Syria. As a ... (see full summary)

 
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e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2017 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
First and above all, I praise God for blessing me with the opportunity and ability to
pursue my dreams and for using me through this paper to spread knowledge about
injustices happening in the world to his children. I would also like to thank my better
half, Joshua Scott and my parents Pamela and Paul Smith for their unwavering support,
continued guidance and immense love that gives me daily motivation. Finally, I would
like to thank my dear friends Joanna Kallinosis and Laura Pereira for their continued
support, motivation, and assistance during the writing and editing process of this
pap er.
A CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
An Overview On Child Brides And hOw the syriAn
refugee Crisis is fOrCing eurOpe tO fOllOw its
lAws Or fOllOw AnOthers
Jessica Smith
St. omas University School of Law
E-mail: JSmith5@STU.EDU
Everyday, all around the world millions of women and children are suering
from the eects child marriage. A child marriage occurs when a female child
is forced to marry an adult male. ese marriages are typically the result of
poverty, religion, and cultural norms. One of the areas with the most prevalent
amount of child brides is the countries throughout the Middle East including
Syria. As a result of the current refugee crisis occurring in Syria, where millions
of Syrian citizens are eeing their homes, of which many are eeing into the
countries of Europe willing to accept them. Many of the refugees coming into
Europe are already involved in a child marriage. Leaving the countries of Eu-
rope to make a dicult decision, should they violate their own laws and accept
the marriages to keep these “families” together? Or should they enforce their
laws and separate the adult men from their adolescent wives? e decision for
Europe touches on many areas that today seem to be to politically correct to
discuss without being spun into political pander. Issues such as assimilation,
nationality, religion, international and local laws, and cultural norms for both
Europeans and Syrians. ese issues are causing political tensions and societal
tension among European citizens and the refugees residing in their country. is
IV Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law 3-40 (January 2017)
4
Smith
paper addresses the reasons child marriages occur, the U.N. resolutions that aim
at protecting women and children but are failing miserably, in addition to the
failure of many countries to put into place protections for female children, the
major detrimental eect child marriage has on young women both emotionally
and physically, and the cultural and religious conict between the refugees and
European citizens.
Keywords: Women’s Human Rights, Refugee Law, Gender Equality, Child’s Rights,
Comparative Health Law, e Human Right to Education.
I. INTRODUCTION
e morning of a wedding, the bride wakes from a blissful dream of
her beautiful gown and future husband to be, excited to spend her life
with the man she chose, the man she loves and the man that loves her
back, more than words can express. Another bride is startled awake the
morning of her wedding, not by blissful dreams, but by nightmares of
her future life. A man that doesn’t love her, a man that will use her as
a tool to fulll his sexual desires and to raise his children and clean his
home, a bright future wasted—no education, living in poverty, unwant-
ed pregnancies, complications from pregnancies due to girls age, risk
of HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and continual sexual assault are just
some of the nightmares these girls face. Anyone hearing these words
has a strong connection to women. We all have our mothers, grand-
mothers, daughters, sisters, or let alone friends that are women. It is
easy to ignore an issue when it’s not something that can be seen or
when we can’t feel the eects of it personally. But these girls are daugh-
ters and sisters, they feel the eects of child marriage everyday. As a
society, we should pride ourselves on fostering the development and
expansion of womens futures. Especially the Americas and Europe-
an countries who are not aected by the child marriage epidemic but
are strong world powers and have a substantial inuence over cultural
change throughout the world.
is paper will propose solutions for the end of child marriage for
young girls who have been aected and will in the future be aected
by child marriage. Section II will give a detailed description of child
marriage and who is being aected by this epidemic. Along with
5
A Clash of Civilization: Child Brides and the Syrian Refugee Crisis is Forcing Europe to Follow its Laws or Follow Another’s
Smith
the conditioning factors which have led to the rise in child marriage
including: poverty, desire to maintain sexual purity, cultural/societal
norms, desires of pedophiles, and protection from widespread sexual
violence. Including how countries of the European Union are being
aected by the current Syrian refugee crisis. Many of the female
refugees are underage and involved in a child marriage whether or not
that marriage was done legally or not in their home country. In Syria,
the legal age for marriage is 17 for women and 16 for men. However,
religious leaders are allowed to make exceptions and approve marriages
for girls at the age of 13 while the male age remains at 16. In addition,
there remains no penalties in Syria for marriages conducted below the
age of consent. e countries of the European Union are now in the
process of deciding whether their laws will reign supreme or will they
make an exception to their laws and accept these child marriages as
legal. It must also be determined whether if these European countries
deem these marriages illegal what will happen to these underage girls.
Section III will analyze the conicting claims, claimants,
identications, perspectives, and bases of power. Including the victims,
victim’s families, lawmakers/members of government supporting
child marriage, lawmakers/members of government opposing child
marriage, and organizations working to end child marriage. Section
IV will analyze the conditioning factors including: a lack of global
denition of a child, lack of universal minimum age requirement to
enter into marriage, lack of universal standard on who can consent
to the marriage, lack of universal law aecting specically issues
of child marriage, and conict between cultural/religious beliefs of
refugees and European law. Along with past trends in decisions which
have aected the law including the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child,1 the United Nations Convention on Consent
to Marriage,2 Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of all
Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the new laws coming
into place in the Netherlands and parts of Europe.
Section V will analyze future decisions in light of changed and
1. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A Res. 25, U.N.H.R.,
20th Sess., art. 1, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989) [hereinaer Rights of the Child].
2. Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Regis-
tration of Marriages, Nov. 8, 1962, 521 U.N.T.S. 231, [hereinaer Consent to
Marriage].

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