Ankara court applies to Turkey’s top court against child marriages
Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARAAn Ankara court has applied to the Constitutional Court to repeal a controversial article of the Turkish Civil Code allowing child marriages in “extraordinary cases,” after receiving an application from a family demanding legal permission for their 13-year-old daughter to marry to her alleged rapist.
After receiving the application, the Ankara 10th Family Court decided to apply to the Constitutional Court for the repeal of Article 124 of the Turkish Civil Code, which allows girls or boys younger than 16 to marry in “extraordinary cases and for very particular reasons” with judges’ approval.
Sending its justification for repeal of the article to the Constitutional Court, the court stated that “it is doubtful that the child’s will is free and certain in marriages at such young ages.”
“The universal declaration of human rights accepts that the marriage agreement can be done only with the free and certain will of those who are going to marry, and that will not be the case when individuals are not mature enough. In this regard, early marriages cause children to be deprived of their basic rights,” the justification read.
It recalled that the Republic of Turkey is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and is therefore “responsible for carrying out judicial regulations that will punish child abuse in an effective way, as it is also responsible for acting positively in investigation and prosecution of these issues.”
The document added that according to the Istanbul Agreement – a Council of Europe agreement on preventing violence against women and inter-family violence, which Turkey has also signed – any marriages under 18 are considered too early.
“Early marriage is violence against children and it also includes sexual exploitation. As a signatory to the [Istanbul Agreement], the state must take judicial measures to prevent physical, sexual, economic and emotional violence,” said the document.
The court also highlighted that most children involved in early marriages are excluded from the education system, suffer reproductive health problems including death, and are exposed to violence and psychological problems.