Forced marriage: marrying your rapist

Forced marriage: marrying your rapist

Posted on Dec 02, 2016

Forced marriage: marrying your rapist



Gender Equality

It is well known that there is an uphill battle for gender equality in Turkey. Although 36% of university students, 30% of doctors and 25% of lawyers are women, there is still a social mentality that women belong at home, raising children. 


Underage Marriage

The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18, however, with underage marriage being a common occurrence across the country, it is estimated that 15% of girls are already married by their 18th birthday.

Reports have also shown that since 2002, 440,000 girls under the age of 18 have given birth - with a shocking, 15,937 of them being below the age of 15.


A woman’s life is “incomplete” if she fails to reproduce

Earlier this year President Erdoğan made some controversial remarks about women such as:

“A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete.”

“Rejecting motherhood means giving up on humanity.”

“A woman who says ‘because I am working I will not be a mother’ is actually denying her femininity.”

As you can imagine, in a country where the women are valued for their potential to be a wife and mother, these comments sparked outrage with women and feminists across the country.


Domestic abuse

Unfortunately, in Turkey domestic abuse and violence is tolerated by many. Even though there is a growing social awareness of domestic abuse, both violence and rape are rife.

Child abuse cases have tripled in the past 10 years, during which time 438,000 underage girls have been married.

Campaigners and protesters are regularly trying to challenge this inequality and make the government change the law to encourage the education rights and domestic rights of women and girls – but this month thousands took to the streets of Istanbul to take on a whole new battle: to protest what has been nicknamed the ‘Child Rape Bill’.


The Child Rape Bill

The bill was proposed by President Erdoğan's conservative AKP (Justice and Development Party) allowing men guilty of child sexual abuse to avoid being prosecuted if they married their victim.

Because of the numbers of underage marriages and pregnancies being high, hospitals and schools are obliged to notify the authorities when learning of cases of underage abuse (e.g. when an underage girl goes to hospital to give birth).

As public cases are opened automatically when the girl is 15, the male responsible is tried for sexual abuse regardless of their age and can be sentenced to jail regardless of the circumstances.

The government said the main aim of this bill was to exonerate men imprisoned for marrying or impregnating an underage girl with her/her family's consent and not those who have forced themselves without 'consent'. To many, all the bill would be doing is legitimising statutory rape and encouraging the practice of taking child brides.

The minister of justice Bekir Bozdag argued that the bill would pardon men who had consensual sex with an underage girl they wanted to marry, adding that around 3,000 people could be released from prison. The main opposition party CHP (The Republican People's Party) MP Ömer Süha Aldan, said that giving a man a pass by marriage would mean that a young rape victim will live in prison her whole life with no release at all.


“If a 50- or 60-year-old is told to marry an 11-year-old girl after raping her, and then marries her years later, she will suffer the consequences”.


With family honour being one of the main drivers of child marriage, violence against women tolerated and the education of women and girls being less than important it was more important than ever that the women and feminists across the country to stand together… and so they did.


Child rape bill protesters


On Friday 18th November, protesters gathered in the streets of Ankara, Izmir and Trabzo, clapping and chanting 'we will not shut up', 'we will not obey', and 'withdraw the bill immediately', and the bill was soon picked up by the media with the hashtag #TecavuzMesrulastirilamaz (rape cannot be legitimised), sparking more protests around Turkey.

UN agencies called on the Government not to approve the bill and as of the 22nd November 2016 it has been officially withdrawn.


Forced marriage in the UK

Although it might seem that forced marriage is not something that happens in the UK, The Government’s Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 1267 cases in 2014 alone.

Often the victim of forced marriage is also at risk of what is more commonly known as ‘honour-based violence’ by a member of the family or community. In some cases, serious injury or death may be threatened or perpetrated against someone who doesn’t cooperate with the marriage.

Alarmingly, there are approximately twelve honour killing a year in the UK.

Because of this, it’s more important than ever that anyone working with members of the community, children – or adults – at risk understand the definition of forced marriage and know what the signs are. It is common for forced marriage to be confused with arranged marriage, but training can prevent mistakes like this.


Awareness training

By joining flick today, you and your staff will have full access to our forced marriage training course which explains the definitions of forced marriage, discusses ‘the one chance rule’ and gives advice on what action to take should you suspect.

You will also have access to more than 30 other courses at no extra cost. So what are you waiting for? 


Try flick for free



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