Turkish family minister says authority to register civil marriages shouldn’t be given to imams
Nuray Babacan – ANKARAAuthority to register civil marriages should not be given to imams, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has said, commenting on a recent draft law allowing “muftis,” religious civil servants within Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), to register marriages.
Kaya also claimed that the draft law would address the issues of child marriages and second wives, as imams already often oversee religious marriages in both cases, despite the fact that both are outlawed.
According to the latest draft law, submitted to parliament on July 25, provincial and local muftis will be granted the authority to conduct marriages in Turkey, in addition to state registrars of marriages in municipalities.
“Mayors, village heads and foreign representations are able to register marriages according to the current regulation. The law change foresees giving provincial and local muftis the same authority, in addition to the aforementioned officials. Accordingly, marriages registered by a mufti will be civil ones,” Kaya told reporters on Aug. 3.
“I actually don’t accept imams carrying out marriages. What’s essential is the execution of civil marriages and their announcement,” she said.
Asked whether the authority would also be transferred to imams, Kaya said it would not and stressed that she “doesn’t accept marriages carried out by imams.”
“Sensitivity is needed on the issue. Authority is only given to district and provincial muftis. The draft law doesn’t say anything about a transfer of authority to imams and I think it should stay that way. If muftis can carry out marriages, why would imams do it too? It is my personal opinion that women are really mistreated and in this way we can get rid of victimization,” she added.
“There will not be marriages at early ages and all women’s rights will be protected. The legal marriage age will not change and there will not be a situation leading to [the legalization of having] more than one spouse,” Kaya added.
Meanwhile, Kaya also said the number of women ministers should increase, commenting on the appointment last month of Jülide Sarıeroğlu as labor and social security minister, thus increasing the number of women in the cabinet to two.
“Our male friends in the cabinet are jokingly saying, ‘Your number in the cabinet has increased 100 percent.’ Why should there be two female ministers and not 10? Why aren’t the Economy, Defense and Interior Ministries entrusted to women? There are female defense ministers in many countries. Why don’t we have a female defense minister?” she said.