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Turkey's Changemakers: 'Child Brides' project fights early marriage tradition in Turkey

HDN | 3/24/2011 12:00:00 AM |

'Child Brides' hopes to raise awareness about early marriages, a pressing issue in contemporary Turkish society.

"Child Brides," a new project implemented by the Flying Broom Women’s Communication and Research Foundation, hopes to raise awareness about early marriages, a pressing issue in contemporary Turkish society.

"Marriage is not a child but an adult right. Early marriage is an exploitation of child rights, it is a criminal act. We must prevent early marriages by engaging all the stakeholders of society through collaborative work to create a brighter future for our children," said Selen Doğan, the coordinator of "Child Bride" project.

According to a study by Hacettepe University, 39.7 percent of women in Turkey marry before turning 18. There are currently close to 5.5 million women in Turkey who married before that age, while the marriages of over 7 million women were arranged by their families. 

The study, which was presented to Parliament’s Commission on Equal Opportunity for Men and Women, also said 2 million women in Turkey were the subject of a dowry. 

Since 1996, the Flying Broom has been implementing projects in order to raise awareness about and provide solutions to women’s issues in Turkey. Their latest project, "Child Brides," aims to change public attitudes toward child brides by reaching women, children, families, communities, government and civil society institutions in 54 provinces of Turkey.

Supported by the Sabancı Foundation, the 18-month project organizes seminars, screenings and panels in order to reach a large crowd. The project speaks to families, elementary school teachers and religious and community leaders to convey the message about the harms of early marriage and the issues that child brides face.

While educating the community, the project also advocates against early marriages by reaching local governments, public decision-makers and Parliament. So far, the "Child Brides" project has reached 15,000 people.

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