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The “Child Marriages Panel” developed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and organized for refugee women by the implementing partner's Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG) and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) was held in İzmir on September 20, 2017. The panel was organized to draw attention to and create awareness about the issue of child marriages, which is frequently experienced in refugee families living in Turkey and is considered a violation of children's rights. The experts who spoke in the panel made presentations on the topics of the Physical, Psychological and Social Dimensions of Child Marriage, Legal Status and Liabilities for Early Marriage in Turkey and Early Marriages According to Islamic Law were made.

The “Child Marriages Panel” in İzmir, funded by the European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Japanese Government and organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the partnership Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG) and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) was attended by about 200 refugee women. 

Duygu Arığ, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Humanitarian Aid Program, Regional Program Director, in her opening speech in the panel, said: “Child marriage is a human rights violation and is one of the most damaging among all human rights violations. Although child marriage affects both boys and girls, girls are relatively more negatively affected and are directed at health risks. Especially financial problems and humanitarian crises might lead families to delusion about its benefits for children. However, child marriages do the exact opposite and constitute a huge obstacle to girls’ and boys’ sexual and reproductive health.

In order to prevent child marriages, government, community leaders and of course non-governmental organizations should act in coordination. To this end, the United Nations Population Fund works with government and civil society partners to protect the human rights of girls and supports developing policies, programs and laws to prevent child marriage".

Nilay Akkurt from the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) said in her opening speech: “Those who marry at a young age especially find it hard to talk about sexual health without being embarrassed. At ASAM, we work for identifying these children in the first place. Those who marry at a young age can be victims of domestic violence, experience financial hardships and show symptoms of depression".

Panel speaker Atty. Sinan Yolalan, in his presentation titled Legal Status and Liabilities for Early Marriage in Turkey, emphasized: "Early marriage is one in which either the girl or the boy (or both) is a child whose age is recorded officially or unofficially. Child marriages should be considered a type of gender-based violence. According to the Turkish Criminal Code no 5237, 'A person who sexually abuses a child is sentenced to three to eight years in prison".

Assoc. Prof. Hasan Kandemir, Celal Bayar University, Head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in his speech titled Psychological and Social Consequences of Child Marriage, stated: “Pregnancy rates are much higher in child marriages. We see the care provided in infancy and the relationship established with the mother are very important for the healthy mental development of the babies. Also in psychiatry, all studies now focus on this period of intensive relationship between the mother and the child. It is not possible to create a healthy family environment in child marriages. Depression and divorce rates are also higher in marriages done at a young age".

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with financial support from its executive partners and various international donors, will continue to organize more than 30 Child Marriages Panels developed for men and women in many cities in Turkey. 

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS)

One in three women in the world marries before the age of 18. Unless essential and effective studies are conducted about child marriages, it is expected that the number of women who marry at a young age will reach 1.2 billion as of 2050. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Turkey Office has been offering capacity development, service provision, reproductive health services and hygiene supplies in women's health and violence against women within the scope of the Humanitarian Aid Program since 2011.

In this respect, Safe Spaces for Women and Girls (WGSS) have started to forge cooperation with various organizations. The centres established in various cities in 2017 with the support from the European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), US Government, Swedish Government and the Japanese Government mainly operate in sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, psycho-social support, empowerment and supply distribution for asylum seeker women and girls.

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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