Angelica Bonfanti

Countering Child and Early Marriage, Between Universalism and Relativism of Human Rights: On the Unconstitutionality of the Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Kinderehen

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In the family sphere many precepts of a traditional and religious nature retain their operativeness, applying, to individuals and communities and acquiring, in some jurisdictions, the status of applica-ble law or source of it. Customs and religions influence the cultural context in which family law rules operate, as well as the content of the related human rights. With its ruling on February 1, 2023, the German Constitutional Court declared the Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Kinderehen of July 17, 2017 to be unconstitutional, insofar as it establishes the nullity of marriages involving minors under the age of sixteen, regardless of their validity under the applicable law. The decision is of undoubted significance from the standpoint of the balancing between the rights concerned and offers interesting insights in the perspective of the debate between universalism and relativism of human rights, with a specific focus on child and early marriage.


  • forced
  • child
  • early marriage
  • human rights
  • universalism
  • relativism
  • Gesetz zur Bekämp-fung von Kinderehen
  • Bundesverfassungsgericht


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