The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Commission welcomes better protection against underage marriages

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 9 November 2023

The legal regulations against underage marriages are to be tightened. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of States (RK-S) has unanimously agreed to the Federal Council’s proposals.

Commission welcomes better protection against underage marriages

Eleven-year-old Anita, standing right, and Birbal pose for a photograph after their marriage, as a priest looks on at Jalpa Mata temple in Rajgarh, about 155 kilometers (96 miles), northwest of Bhopal, India
.
(KEYSTONE/AP Photo/Prakash Hatvalne)

The commission considers the persistent occurrence of underage marriages in Switzerland to be offensive, the parliamentary services announced on Wednesday.

Specifically, the age up to which actions for annulment can be brought against marriages of minors is to be raised in the Civil Code. According to current law, marriages with minors can no longer be declared invalid if the person concerned comes of age at 18. In future, this will be possible until the 25th birthday.

However, the current law provides for the possibility of continuing marriage with minors in individual cases. This should also be maintained in the future. If a person is still a minor at the time of the assessment, it should be possible to continue the marriage if this is in the overriding interest of the person concerned. However, if the person is between 18 and 25 years old, they must declare that they wish to continue the marriage of their own free will.

Against “summer vacation marriages”

Private international law is also to be amended. According to the Federal Council’s proposal, which is supported by the Commission, marriages with young people under the age of 16 are to be generally prohibited.

Commission welcomes better protection against underage marriages
Gypsy bride Narcisa Tranca, 15, drinks brandy from a bottle as relatives and friends watch during her wedding in the village of Voluntari, on the outskirts of Bucharest, Romania.
(KEYSTONE/AP Photo/Michelle Kelso)

The proposal also stipulates that so-called “summer holiday marriages”, in which minors living in Switzerland are married abroad during their vacations, will generally not be recognized. The committee will discuss the details of the proposal at one of its next meetings.

Forced marriages and marriages with minors have increasingly come to the attention of the general public in recent years. In Switzerland, authorities counted a total of around 350 suspected cases of invalid marriages due to coercion or minors in a survey between 2013 and 2017.

©Keystone/SDA

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