Friday, 18 November 2011

Child Marriage Rate in Turkey ... 14%

Report finds Turkey’s early marriage rate at 14 percent.

The percentage of child marriages in Turkey, where one of the spouses is underage, is 14 percent, a study by the International Strategic Research Agency (USAK) has found.
Turkey has the second highest rate of early marriages among the European countries in the USAK survey, following Georgia where the percentage is 17
USAK’s report found that the highest number of child marriages can be found in Western, Eastern and Central African countries followed by South Asian counties.
The agency held a press conference on Friday to announce the details of its report “Marriage or Playing House? Early and Forced Marriages: Child Brides,” which includes the results of a study conducted by the agency.
USAK researcher Elvan Aydemir presented the results to the media. The report also includes statements and observations from experts as well as interviews with some of the surveyed.
The report found that an estimated 10 to 12 million girls are forced into marriage at an early age every year in the developing world. In Turkey, one out of every three women is married as a child bride.
USAK’s findings indicate that early marriages cannot just be explained by cultural factors or traditions and beliefs, saying that the practice is caused by a large number of factors that include socio-cultural factors, education, gender equality in society as well as wars or natural disasters.
The report says that early marriages have devastating results, both at an individual and social level. A few among these consequences are mother-child deaths, problems relating to fertility health, lack of education, violence against and exploitation of women as well as the social isolation of women, the report said.

According to "Today's Zaman," an English-language edition of what has traditionally been one of Turkey's most conservative newspapers (I generally don't agree with their opinion page- to put it midly), a 12-year-old Syrian bride who was married to a 35-year-old Turkish man in the southeastern Turkish city of Urfa (known for its famous dish, Urfa kebab-pictured here) has returned home to her parents.

Bedia Amori, the child bride (she is not the one actually pictured here), has claimed that her spouse Abdullah Tapan, had abused her during their very short marriage, which was never recognized by the state though it had been sanctioned by a local mosque (Turkey's state laws, in many instances, are quite ironically more progressive/secular than 'tribal laws' in rural regions).

According to "Today's Zaman," Tapan had a criminal record in the Urfa district and the groom's family had paid their future in-laws a considerable amount of money (approximately $30,000) for Amori's hand in marriage.

Amori's father ended up traveling to Urfa, which is very close to the Syrian border, and asked to get his daughter back. Local authorities soom arrested Tapan, and Amori was set free to return to Syria.

The child bride told police that Tapan drank too much alcohol and forced her to watch pornographic films.

Amori's family had assumed they were giving their daughter to a good Muslim man.

I should point out that anti-Muslim sites like love these sorts of stories, but I disagree with their political agenda as I see both extreme evangelical Christians and radical fundamentalist Muslims to be an equal political threat to secularism universally. And, though I don't practice Islam, my late father's religion, myself I do not in any way view it as a religion of evil.

Nevertheless, I am concerned that the social aims of Islamic conservatives in Turkey and elsewhere has reached its proverbial tipping point, but there are signs, at least in Turkey, that opposition movements will soon regain traction politically.

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