Flying Broom News Center
"When my friends were going to school, I, as a little girl of 13 had been married with a man, a friend of my father, in his 30s. I was scared when he was at home. I could even not enter in his room. I'll never forgive my father," said an unnamed child bride from Van province, now in her 40s.
It is difficult to determine the exact number of child marriages in Turkey as many go unreported or are unofficial "imam" (religious) ceremonies. "This makes the situation more problematic as they are not registered officially, making it difficult to track them," attorney Vildan Yirmibesoglu told SETimes.
However, according to the Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies' data, the early marriage rate in Turkey -- defined as marriage at 17 years of age and younger in the 15-49 year-old age group -- is 28% on average. The number includes unofficial religious marriages and shows regional variation, with highs of near 41% in eastern and southeastern Turkey.
"When thinking of including women over 49 years of age it wouldn't be incorrect to say the numbers would be much higher," Dr. Ilknur Yuksel-Kaptanoglu of the Institute of Populations Studies told SETimes, adding that "Even though the numbers have been falling over the years, they are still high and continue to be a problem."
According to a recent report by parliament's Committee on the Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men, many families in eastern Turkey do not consider underage marriage a problem.
The Flying Broom Women's Communication and Research Foundation is one of the most influential civil society organizations campaigning against child marriage. They are active in 54 cities, meeting with child brides to give them a chance to tell their own stories.
The consequences of early marriages can be significant. It often leads to children dropping out of school and perpetuates the poverty cycle, but according to Guner it also contributes to domestic violence, incestuous relationships, health problems, and even death.
Girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are four times more likely to die in childbirth than adult pregnancies. According to statistics based on Yirmibesoglu's recent case studies, a quarter of women suicides in Turkey are from the age range of 14-16.
More info can found in the following PDF by the Flying Brides organization:
Flying News publication on ‘Early and Forced Marriage’