Mayor, girls fight back against ‘tradition’ of abducting minors for marriage
Gülden Aydın – İZMİRUnderage girls have been abducted and forced into marriage, while their families have been paid hush money to maintain their silence about the activity in the western province of İzmir’s Kiraz district, according to allegations by villagers. Now, however, the town’s first woman mayor is attempting to fight back against the tradition, as are some of the liberated kidnapping victims.
“We’ve seen that abducting girls is happening often in the Sırımlı-Olgunlar line. Most of them are done contractually, but there is a victimization of girls. The mothers and father of these girls got married the same way. If someone is to put an end to this situation, that’s me,” Mayor Saliha Özçınar of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently told daily Hürriyet, adding that the perception of “she loved and left or he loved and abducted” should be broken.
According to villagers in the villages of Sırımlı and Olgunlar, it is a tradition to abduct girls between the ages of 12 and 21 and then pay the families hush money.
According to the villagers, the hush money increases as the age of the abducted girl decreases. Families receive up to 20,000 Turkish Liras when their 15-year-old is abducted, 25,000 liras when their 14-year-old child is abducted, 30,000 liras when their 13-year-old girl is abducted and up to 40,000 liras when their 12-year-old-child is abducted.
Most of the girls give birth to two or three girls before turning 18. The abductions are generally conducted on Fridays out of the belief that authorities will not take any action on weekends.
One of the abducted girls, identified only as Ş.A., 15, was saved in a police operation following after 85 days in captivity after her family rebelled against the tradition. Another abducted girl, Ebru Sakal, 14, was missing for 50 days, with her family applying to authorities for her return.
“Last year, I finished eighth grade at Kiraz Haliller Middle School. On the night of Nov. 7, 2016, I went outside to go to the bathroom. I ran into my foster sibling and he called me home. Necati Gedik, 18, from Olgunlar village was there. There were two other men with him. They took me for a walk for an hour and a half. I stayed in the Olgunlar village for two and a half months,” Ş.A. told Hürriyet, adding that she attempted to escape twice but was caught each time.
“They hid me in the barn when the gendarmerie raided the house. They took me to houses I didn’t know. All of the villagers knew I was abducted. They saw me while attempting to escape, but didn’t tell the gendarmerie about it. They were on the side of the kidnappers and not the state. I’ll file a complaint against all of them. They should rot in hell,” she said.
Özçınar said around 20 girls are abducted each year from the two villages and that most of the victims were aged 14.
“A child is a child. A child can’t be a wife or a mother. They say ‘She loved and went voluntarily.’ She is a child. They don’t get it. I will ask for help from Ege University. Sociologists should come and investigate the reasons for this tradition,” she said.