Constitutional Court's decision facilitated child marriages: Lawyer
A lawyer specialized in child marriages said that a 2015 decision by Turkey's Constitutional Court to nullify two paragraphs of an article in the Turkish Penal Code has led to an increase in enforced marriages of girls.
Commenting on the circumstances that surround a recently exposed case of organized pedophilia, lawyer Beliz Ozkan told bianet's Evrim Kepenek:
"Earlier it was illegal to perform a religious wedding not preceded by a civil one. The Constitutional Court nullified that legislation. Now a religious wedding may be performed without an official one, and this has become a factor that greatly facilitated underage marriages."
It has been recently been exposed through a journalist's report that a young woman, H.K.G., informed the prosecution two years earlier that she had been placed by her father, a senior member of a major religious community, in the hands of a 29-year-old man when she was six years old, and that she has been subjected to sexual abuse, rape and violence throughout her enforced relationship with him, which first took the form of a religious marriage, then a civil one.
The Turkish Constitutional Court nullified on 29 May 2015 the following paragraphs of the Turkish Penal Code's article 230:
"Those who have a religious wedding in the absence of an official marriage contract are to be punished by a prison term of two to six months.
"Those who minister a religious wedding without being presented with the legal document of an official marriage contract are to be punished by a prison term of two to six months."
One of every four women marry under 18 in Turkey
Evrim Kepenek also drew attention in her article to the Turkish Statistical Institute's (TUIK) recent data on marriage age.
24.2% of women in Turkey were married under the age of 18 as of 2021, according to TUIK, while only 4.4% of the men were married before they were 18.
23% of the women were married when they were 18-19, while 8.9% of the men were married at those ages.
HDP deputies' parliamentary question on religious marriages
21 women deputies for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) submitted a parliamentary question on religious marriages on Friday, addressing the minister of Family and Social Services Derya Yanik.
They asked minister Yanik how many children have been forced into marriage through religious weddings in the last five years, and in now many legal cases of sexual abuse under such marriages is the ministry involved as intervenor.