Child marriage still an issue in Turkey

Child marriage still an issue in Turkey

Child marriage still an issue in Turkey

Turkey should overcome child marriage, International Federaiton of University Women head Marianne Haslegrave (R) told Hürriyet Daily News. Daily News Photo, Emrah Gürel

Child marriage should not be an issue modern Turkey is still talking about, according to the head of a prominent women’s organization.

Turkey is a progressive country, but there are issues that we shouldn’t still be talking about, Marianne Haslegrave, the president of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), told the Hürriyet Daily News. Haslegrave was in Turkey ahead of the IFUW’s triennial conference, which will take place in August in Istanbul. IFUW’s 31st conference will focus on education, urbanization, violence and human rights.

“The fact that the Turkish Association of University Women is hosting the conference shows that it is a very strong organization; we know it is a powerful organization and a force to reckon with,” said Haslegrave.

“I see some of the most progressive women that you could find and some of the most backward you could find,” she said when asked how the status of Turkish women is seen from outside. “Some of the women are extremely well educated, very articulate, hold very powerful positions. Then you also see Turkish women who clearly have very little education and a large number of children and do not get the same advantages as the Turkish women I meet,” she said.

“Islamic backlash”

Contrasting the times of Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic and current times, Haslegrave said there were still issues like child marriage that should no longer exist in modern Turkey. The conference will take place at a location that is very close to the Arab Spring countries. Yet Haslegrave is not certain that regime changes in the Arab world will improve the rights of women.

“The Arab Spring is showing that it may not be helpful for the status of women because of what I called the Islamic backlash,” she said. The rise of fundamentalism can make it harder for women to improve their rights, according to Haslegrave.