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-18 is a child, not a mother

“In order to change the society, one must start with herself. If you don’t get your daughter married before the age of 18, if I don’t, if she doesn’t, then when other families look for girls for their children, they won’t be able to find anyone under the age of 18 and everyone will have to get a girl over the age of 18. We need to spread the risks of child marriage and its consequences up to death in the hospital. If we change ourselves first, we can change the world.”

These words of speaker Hanan Elhamad revealed once again the value of talking about ‘Child Marriage’ in the informative meeting we held with women on March 8, International Women’s Day. Hanan Elhamad had attended the Girls’ Empowerment Workshop Series Moderator Training in 2019 and applied the workshop series in her own organization. In the meeting where she shared her knowledge and experience on the subject, the moderator was the implementer of the Girl Child Empowerment Workshop Series from Mavi Kalem. We dwelled on issues such as what is child marriage, what are the risks of child marriage, how can we prevent them.

It is known that girls who are married at a young age and their mothers don’t receive education to a large extent.[1] This situation shows that there is a bidirectional relationship between not having access to education and child marriage. Ultimately, both prevent girls and women from gaining their cognitive and economic independence, leading to the perpetuation of gender inequality. In a study conducted in Turkey, it was found that women realize the difficulties and inequalities of opportunity brought by child marriage and motherhood when they are adults.[2] In this sense, informative work is important for women to gain more room for action regarding the rights and opportunities that both themselves and their girl children have. Developing and diversifying studies that inform and raise awareness are among our main goals.

In this regard, we hold regular meetings on a topic we have determined within the scope of fundamental rights and services. We invite a speaker closely related to the subject and beneficiaries whom we have known from our previous events or have just met recently. During or at the end of the speaker’s lecture, the participants also share their knowledge and experience. Here are a few comments of the participant women from this meeting:

“Especially we Syrians, after we left Syria and unfortunately back there, were faced with such a problem. And especially here, we see that girls at the age of 14, 15, and 16 are married off, that they even continue these marriages in unofficial ways, have 2nd or even 3rd children and give birth at home because they cannot go to the hospital. Especially when we consider the Syrians and the Aleppo society, they usually marry their children off under the age of 18.”

“I was married at the age of 14 and unfortunately I was oppressed a lot. That’s why I said that I will not marry my daughters off before the age of 18. My request from all mothers here is that you do not marry your daughters off before the age of 18.”

“I held my first child at the age of 15 and my second child at the age of 16. They would cry, and I would sit and cry with them. I was just a child and didn’t know how to take care of a child.”

At the end of the study, women stated that they were empowered to be informed about ways to prevent child marriage and its positive results. They expressed their desire to participate in more informative meeting on women’s rights. In the second part of the event, Mavi Kalem art instructor moderated the music and rhythm event. We became stronger while we sang songs, laughed and had fun together.

 

[1] Soylu, N. & Ayaz, M. (2013), Adli değerlendirme için yönlendirilen küçük yaşta evlendirilmiş kız çocuklarının sosyodemografik özellikleri ve ruhsal değerlendirmesi. Anadolu Psikiyatri Dergisi, 14:136-144.

[2] Aktepe, E. & Atay, İ. M. (2017). Çocuk evlilikleri ve psikososyal sonuçları. Current Approaches in Psychiatry/Psikiyatride Guncel Yaklasimlar9(4).

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