POLITICS > Child marriage a taboo for Turkey, Dutch Princess says

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

Child marriage is a fact in Turkey, with 28 percent of all marriages involving children under 18, but it remains taboo and laws restricting it are not implemented, Dutch Princess Mabel van Oranje says

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Moderator Oylum Talu (L), Girls not Brides head Mabel von Oranje (C) and Dr. Tererai Trent from Zimbabwe’s Tinogona Foundation spoke on child brides. Courtesy of Sabancı Foundation

Moderator Oylum Talu (L), Girls not Brides head Mabel von Oranje (C) and Dr. Tererai Trent from Zimbabwe’s Tinogona Foundation spoke on child brides. Courtesy of Sabancı Foundation

Erdem Güneş Erdem Güneş erdem.gunes@hdn.com.tr

Child marriage is a fact in Turkey, with 28 percent of all marriages involving children under 18, but it remains taboo and laws restricting it are not implemented, the International Girls Not Brides head and Dutch Princess Mabel van Oranje has said.

Oranje’s comments were made yesterday at a meeting titled “Challenging Impossible” held by the Sabancı Foundation in Istanbul.

The contentious issue of child brides in Turkey is not getting any better, according to Oranje, who blasted the current situation in Turkey and the lack of headway being made in policy on the matter.
“The Turkish Parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women and Men wrote a report in 2009.

It’s a very interesting report and it has a series of very good recommendations, but unfortunately little action is taking place to implement these recommendations,” she said.

The Dutch princess said the issue remained a taboo and that first of all acknowledgement that child marriage existed and was harmful for children and society was necessary.

“We need to break the taboo of not talking about this issue and we all need to have role in abolishing it,” Oranje added.

According to UNICEF, Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe, but the figures vary depending on the amount of data available and the region surveyed. For example, according to a national study, the average national rate of child marriage is 28 percent, but it reaches as high as 41 percent in the eastern and southeastern regions.

The philanthropy seminar took place in at the Sabancı Foundation headquarters with the attendance of Oranje and Dr. Tererai Trent from Zimbabwe’s Tinogona (Achievable) Foundation.

In 2012, the Sabancı Foundation became partners with the Girls Not Brides platform in the struggle to end child marriages in Turkey.

“Sabancı cannot do it by itself, we all need to be involved,” Oranje said, adding that a law against such marriages existed but was not being implemented.

“We don’t know very well [the real data]. There is a lack of info. Some 28 percent of girls marry before they turn 18. But we don’t know the exact data because these marriages are done through religious marriages, which are not registered. They are not legally recognized,” she said.

“It is happening more in the east of the country but it’s also happening in the west in cities like in Istanbul,” she added.

Meanwhile, Sabancı Holding Chairwoman Güler Sabancı said girls should continue their education until the age of at least 18 to demand their own options, as this was their most fundamental human right, in a message sent to the attendees.

“Sometimes the problem’s dimensions require a global organization and action, it is hard to achieve but not impossible. What we need is a social leader who can realize a radical change and challenges impossibilities,” Sabancı said.

Over one in every four brides is a child, as families are increasingly applying to the court to change the date of birth of their daughters so they can legally marry, an association of Turkish female lawyers warned on May 4.

The legal age for marriage in Turkey was recently raised to 17 from 15, but the commission members said this limit should be increased to 18.

On average, 14 million girls get married every year around the world, which means that every two seconds one girl under 18 gets married.


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Notice on comments

hanni bal

12/16/2013 1:53:29 PM

forcing women into marriage is illegal and void.Women empowerment on their rights and duties whether as a citizen or a family member must be respected.Islam has all the ingredients to promulgate real humanity and social justice.But sad to say people , ourselves cannot fully grasp the whole idea because we are busy for self glorification and overall satisfaction and never think it would be applicable in these modern times....am I right cilgin?

Çılgın Kanarya

12/15/2013 2:26:23 AM

Hanni Bal? Sam AFG? A Shah? Our neanderthal İslamist contingent, just as I expected, are very conspicuous by their absence in this article! It just goes to show that some things are utterly indefensible, and underlines why the AKP are sooooooo damn silent on this issue.

mara mcglothin

12/13/2013 4:38:10 PM

Right FARUK and BLACK BERRY When people talk about what a statesman he is, I am always left to wonder how any healthy 34 year old male would even want to be married to a child. Something is not right with this picture since he was educated in the West and knows better.

Black Berry

12/13/2013 3:40:42 PM

Do not expect anything from our government on this, the president married his wife (who is also his first cousin) when she was 15 and he was 30.

Red Tail

12/13/2013 3:26:54 PM

Turkic Voice. What you say about Kurds is nothing but racism. And wrong. You see this also among non-kurds.

Brian Irlanda

12/13/2013 2:47:22 PM

Well said Agnes! It actually seems a bit on the low side to me Red Tail. And Faruk, it is really shocking isn't it? maybe you can buy a second one at half price..... sick...sick..sick...

Agnes Smith

12/13/2013 2:08:37 PM

I have been trying to resist this one. The students (of adult age) in education cannot have rights to live co-ed because it is a conflict with 'our conservative values' as quoted by the PM. But it is fine and good for my voters to marry off their girls under the age of consent and I don't issue a word on this. Shame on your double standards and hypocrisy Tayip. When will you stop chastising the educated and rewarding the poor and uneducated with outdated and unjust morals/values.

turkic voice

12/13/2013 12:54:55 PM

I think that maybe the Kurds Should sort out this Problem in the East, they should lay out there recommendations to the state in response to this problem, Turkey has been restrained with what it can do in this area now that the Kurds and Turks are at peace, we would not want to provoke them after so much blood has been spilled. how can we change this backward mentality which has grown into society over many years without harming this long sought friendship at last??? Maybe educate as cilgin says

Wishingstar 35

12/13/2013 12:12:45 PM

The AKP politicians should be worrying about this instead of a couple allegedly kissing in a mosque. priorities, AKP, priorities.....

Faruk Beisser

12/13/2013 10:06:21 AM

Heu Kanarya, did you forget why AKP does nothing? After all, one of the highest politician of AKP married a child bride and claimed it was normal where she lived. She was only 16 at that time. Even today one can buy an 11 year old in the SE for roughly 11.000 TL.
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