Turkish foundation head faces lawsuit after suggesting six-year-old children could marry

Turkish foundation head faces lawsuit after suggesting six-year-old children could marry

Turkish foundation head faces lawsuit after suggesting six-year-old children could marry

Nureddin Yıldız, the head of the Social Fabric Foundation.

The head of a conservative foundation in Turkey has stirred outrage after suggesting that children as young as six-years-old could marry other children or adults, with a number of NGOs and opposition lawmakers preparing to file a complaint for his remarks.

Nureddin Yıldız, whose Social Fabric Foundation particularly focuses on family and education issues, said during a live broadcast on Jan. 10 that there was no age limit for marriage according to Islam.

“Children can even marry before puberty. There can be marriages between children or between a child and an adult - for example, marriage between a seven-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man, or a seven-year-old boy with a 25-year-old woman. There are no inconveniences preventing their marriage,” Yıldız was quoted as saying.

“For Muslims who believe the Quran, there is nothing such as an age limit for marrying. There aren’t any obstacles for marrying at 10, seven or six,” he added.

Yıldız’s remarks come at a time when many associations are making considerable efforts to organize campaigns to reduce the number of child marriages across Turkey, particularly in eastern Anatolia.

According to official data, 181 children were married in the country over the past four years – not counting the many cases in which families alter the age of their children to make them look older on paper. In 2013 alone, young girls between the ages of 15 and 17 gave birth to 20,374 babies.

Main opposition Republican People’ Party (CHP) lawmaker Nur Serter slammed Yıldız's words. “The statement made by that individual clearly incites child rape. There is no other understanding. You cannot marry a six-year-old child. You can only rape that child,” Serter said.

“I call on the foundation to remove that individual from his position,” she added.

Fellow CHP deputy Aylin Nazlıaka said they will meet representatives of civil society to file individual complaints against Yıldız. She also accused the government of “encouraging” such people to openly express their views.

“We have seen many conservative and authoritarian initiatives with remarks such as ‘pregnant women shouldn’t walk in the streets.’ Now Yıldız says women shouldn’t work, there shouldn’t be anchorwomen on TV screens, and six-year-olds can marry. These individuals are trying to impose on society their psychopathic views by using religion,” Nazlıaka said.

Yıldız’s remarks also come after several comments on women by government officials caused concern.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç made international headlines at the end of last year after suggesting that women should not laugh in public. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan later raised the bar further, arguing that women are not equal to men before denouncing birth control as “treason.”

More recently, Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu said motherhood was a career, suggesting that women's role was to stay at home and take care of their offspring – at least three, if they want to please Erdoğan.