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“Child Marriage Awareness Panel” - (25 September 2017- Batman)

A Child Marriage Awareness Panel aiming to raise awareness among women refugees was held on the 25th of September, 2017 in Batman. The panel the content concept of which was developed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was organized in cooperation with the KAMER Foudnation, the implementing partner of UNFPA in Turkey. The panel has aimed to raise awareness of and draw attention to child marriages, a serious human rights violation against children, and also a significant problem among refugee families that seek help in Turkey. In the panel, participants held presentations with the themes Physical, Psychological and Social Dimensions of Child Marriages, Legal Status and Obligations in Early Age Marriages in Turkey and Child Marriages from the Islamic Perspective.

The Child Marriage Awareness Panel was organized with the cooperation of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the KAMER Foundation and it was financed by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. In the panel held in Batman 374 refugee women participated.  

Mrs. Fatma Hacıoğlu Sarıdağ, Regional Programme Manager within the Humanitarian Aid Programme of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) made the opening speech in the panel spoke about the panels which United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organizes in numerous provinces to raise awareness about child marriages, with specific content intended for women and men refugees. Mrs. Sarıdağ underlined that they organize these panels with the beneficiaries of Women and Girls Safe Spaces run in cooperation with various implementing partners and financial donors within the humanitarian aid programme of UNFPA. She further said that they would organize more than 30 panels in the same concept in various provinces within the framework of this project.

Mrs. Meral Tunç Baranoğlu, Coordinator of the KAMER Foundation in Batman, informed the participants about the activities and projects of KAMER, the implementing partner of the panel, with respect to child marriages.   

In the presentation he made during the panel, Dr. Gökhan Yıldırımkaya, Reproductive Health Programme Coordinator of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that child marriage is the greatest evil done to children. Drawing attention to the fact that anyone who is under 18 years of age is defined as ‘’a child’’ before the law, Dr. Yıldırımkaya underlined that it could have serious consequences both for a mother and a new-born if an individual, herself still in childhood age, assumes the complete responsibility to provide care for a new-born. He further said that problems arising from pregnancy in child marriages could give rise to serious health problems that can have fatal consequences for girls married at an early age. Referring to the facts and figures made public by the World Health Organization, Dr. Yıldırımkaya said that pregnancy under 20 years of age is not recommended and disapproved in respect of a healthy delivery.   

Mrs. Berçem Akkoç, a Lawyer from the Bar Association of İstanbul, who made a presentation during the event with the theme Legal Status and Obligations in Early Age Marriages in Turkey said that marrying an individual at childhood age is defined as a crime in relevant legislation. She emphasized the rights refugees have in Turkey, but reminded them that refugees also have responsibilities in respect of not being involved in any offence. In her presentation, she underlined that an individual who is forced to get married at childhood age becomes also involved in the offence committed and that persons subjected to forced marriage have also the right to say no at the wedding table.

Prof. Dr. Ayşen Ufuk Sezgin from the Department of Forensic Medicine at İstanbul University who made a presentation with the theme Physical, Psychological and Social Dimensions of Child Marriages underlined that child marriages do give rise to traumas. She indicated that such coercion children are subjected to should not be defined as ‘’getting married’’, but as ‘’forced to marry’’. She said that child marriage is a type of violation and that any actual case should not be interpreted as a justification or a pretext to normalize child marriages. Pointing out that such a marriage should never be considered as a cultural element, she said that it must rather be handled as child abuse.  

Mr. Mehmet Sıddık Buğur from the Office of Mufti of Doğubeyazıt made a presentation with the theme Child Marriages from the Islamic Perspective, informing the participants about the standpoint of Islam on child marriages. He indicated that marrying a child at an early age is not compatible with Islam, adding that people who interpret it as part of the Islamic tradition do not reflect reality.  

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the support of its various implementing partners and with the finance received from various international donors, continues to organize the "Child Marriage Awareness Panel" series of nearly 30, whose content is specifically developed for men and women, in many different provinces of Turkey.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was established in 1969 as the biggest aid source with international funding in the area of population operating around the world. UNFPA operates in more than 150 countries for creating policies and strategies that support sustainable development. Having started its activities on a project basis, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been working on reproductive health, encouraging social-gender equality, and collecting, using and distributing data about development and humanitarian aid in Turkey since 1971. Within this framework, the first Country Program lasted from 1988 to 1992 and now the Sixth Country Program (2016-2020) is being executed.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. To this end, UNFPA focuses especially on 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); SDG 3: Good health and well-being, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality and finally, SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals

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