Many girls in Turkey - especially those from vulnerable groups or low socio-economic status - continue to face pressure to fill traditional gender roles, and are at particular risk of entering into child, early or forced marriage.
The legal age of marriage in Turkey is 18 and children can marry at the age of 17 with the consent of their parents or legal guardians. Children at the age of 16 can also marry, with special permission from the courts ‘under exceptional circumstances and on vital grounds’.
Despite the rising average age of marriage, child marriage remains an on-going challenge in Turkey and reflects a pattern of gender inequality that reinforces stereotypical roles for girls and curtails their education, compromises their health, and exposes them to the risk of violence and poverty.
UNICEF in Turkey works with the government, local administrations and civil society organizations to support policy-making, implementation, quality service provision and monitoring of programmes to prevent, combat and respond to cases of child marriage.
We provided technical support to the MoFLSS for the development of the “National Strategy Document and Action Plan for Combatting Early and Forced Marriages”.
UNICEF has a partnership with the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services at the central level and implements ‘child marriage prevention and response model’ in Gaziantep and Kilis, with the aim of expanding it to other provinces, targeting refugees and local communities. The model includes key interventions to effectively prevent and respond to child marriage, such as:
- identifying leading factors of child marriage;
- identifying barriers to the elimination of child marriage;
- developing mechanisms for the identification and
- management of cases of child marriage; mapping of available services across the continuum of care and;
- increasing the local service providers’ capacities to prevent and respond to child marriage.
Comprehensive training programmes for educational professionals, religion officers, mukhtars and civil servants in several sectors were developed.
Community-based trainings to mothers, fathers and adolescent girls and boys with the aim to increase the community awareness and contribute to positive social norm changes were conducted.
The “UN Joint Programme on the Elimination of Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM)” was initiated under the leadership of UNICEF with the interventions of other UN agencies. This programme takes a multi-sectoral approach to the challenge of eliminating child marriage. Strategies have also been designed to promote positive social norms and behavioural change at community level.