Turkish gov’t plans to reduce early, forced marriage ratio from 5 to 1 percent

Turkish gov’t plans to reduce early, forced marriage ratio from 5 to 1 percent

Turkish gov’t plans to reduce early, forced marriage ratio from 5 to 1 percent The Turkish government is planning to reduce the ratio of underage as well as forced marriages in the country from five percent to one percent through an action plan regarding the issue prepared by the Family and Social Policies Ministry for 2018-2023, daily Milliyet reported on Aug. 31.

According to the data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), of the 602,982 official marriages in Turkey in 2015, over 30,000 girls aged 16-17 were forced into marriage, the daily said. This figure corresponds to 5.2 percent of all marriages that year, whereas this ratio was determined to be 7.3 percent in 2002, according to Milliyet.

The Family and Social Policy Ministry has held meetings regarding its action plan called “Strategy document and action plan for prevention of early and forced marriage.” In these meetings, the officials reportedly said the issue of child marriage was still an important problem in the world and despite improved international legal documents, great success regarding the problem has still not been attained. 

General Director of the Status of Women Directorate of the Family and Social Policy Ministry Gülser Ustaoğlu said in one of these meetings that the problem also persisted greatly in the United States. She said there were more than 167,000 female children, including 12-year-olds, who had been married in the U.S.’s 38 states in the last 10 years, and some of their spouses were men aged over 18. 

“It has been indicated that 88 percent of the countries in the world have determined the minimum marriage age as 18, but 52 percent of them allow female children to get married with the permission of their parents. As a result, more than 700 million women have been reported to get married while they were children, with most living in South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa,” Ustaoğlu was quoted as saying by the newspaper. 

“Despite the regulations and education given in Turkey, although early marriage has decreased in the country, it still exists, according to TÜİK figures. With the action plan we will prepare, we aim to decrease the problem to 1 percent,” she was quoted to have said further.

The meeting also saw presentations done by various NGOs, who said the term “early marriage” did not exactly represent the problem, but that the term “child marriage” was a more appropriate phrase.

The representatives of the NGOs also said although the official figures of child marriage had decreased in the country, the authorities may still not be informed of cases of child brides forced into illegal marriages, hence, clouding the reliability of the TÜİK figures.

The studies conducted in the regions should be taken into account, according to the NGOs. The studies undertaken in the eastern provinces of Kars, Ağrı, Iğdır as well as in the southwestern province of Burdur contradict the figures released by the TÜİK, the NGOs said. “The sensitivities of the regions should be taken into account and measures particular to the region should be developed,” they said. 

The influence of child marriage on health should be analyzed, the NGOs said, underlining that the mortality risk of child mothers were five times higher during birth compared to the average.

Regarding the issue, schoolchildren should also be informed of the disadvantages of early marriage, the NGOs suggested. Another suggestion was for schools to hold workshops, inviting those with experience in the prevention of child marriage to speak to the students.