Ankara court refuses to allow 16-year-old to marry sexual abuser
Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARA
An Ankara court has refused to allow a 16-year-old girl to marry her abuser who impregnated her in 2017, setting a precedent for future cases to prevent early and forced marriages.
The girl, 15 at the time, was raped by her 24-year-old boyfriend on Aug. 4, 2017, leading to her impregnation.
The girl, unaware of her pregnancy for a long time, gave birth to her daughter on May 31, 2018, in her house’s bathroom.
Upon her complaint, Ankara prosecutors launched an investigation against her abuser on charges of “sexual intercourse with a minor” and decided to place the baby in a child support center in the capital Ankara.
She ran away from her house on July 5, 2018, saying she was being subjected to pressure and violence from her parents and withdrew her complaint against the sexual abuser four days after.
About a month later, she moved to the child protection center and filed a lawsuit to marry her abusive boyfriend.
The legal age to marry in Turkey is 18 but the law also allows 17 year olds to marry with the consent of their parents or guardians or 16 year olds in exceptional circumstances with a court’s approval.
In a hearing of the case on Oct. 19, 2018, the judge adjourned the trial and requested a report from the Ankara-based Hacettepe University’s Faculty of Medicine Department of Child Health and Diseases to assess whether or not the child is aware of her marriage demand’s consequences.
“It is clearly understood that she is unable to predict the consequences of the incident to her future life, family and social circle,” said the report.
The medical faculty’s report also stressed that she cannot wholesomely evaluate the obligations that come from being a mother and a wife as a minor.
In the final hearing of the case on Jan. 25, the Ankara Fourth Family Court ruled for the dismissal of the case and refused to allow the girl’s request to marry.
Şahin Antakyalıoğlu, the general coordinator of ÇAÇAV, a network of lawyers defending children, called the court’s decision “historic.”
“The judiciary used to accept pregnancy or the birth of a child as an ‘exceptional and a very important’ reason for children to get married. With the report taken from Hacettepe University, contrary to this has happened,” he added.