What are the impacts of the lack of child rights approach on the society at the developing countries such as Turkey?
1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is recognized across the world with many countries and became universal. This international declaration contains several specific rights for children but most importantly has four fundamental rights which are, the right to life, survival, and development, the right to non-discrimination and the right to participation. “We believe every child deserves a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm,” Richard Bland, national director of policy, advocacy and development at Save the Children, told Business Insider. However, not everybody thinks like Richard and in some countries, child rights are not a common issue. In Turkey, we have various different problems about child rights but most importantly, child brides are the biggest issue on this topic. This omission might generate so many problems in society, especially on the children. It causes to make a patriarchal structure in the family and later on in the society. If the developing countries such as Turkey can change their mentality on child brides, we can see more women in the society with a higher welfare level
According to Business Insider article, Norway, Slovenia, Finland, Netherlands, and Sweden have the highest rates at taking into account things like mortality rates, child-labor laws, threats of violence and the rates of disease. However, Turkey is not even on the list of top 50. There are some situations which are disregarding the rights of the children such as child brides. It is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that men are somehow superior to women. It is quite a complex issue and it has many reasons: cultural practices, poverty, the level of education of families and domestic violence. Girls living in poor households are almost twice as likely to marry before 18 than girls who are from richer families and also girls with higher education are less likely to marry at a younger age. On the other side, child brides generally face a higher risk of HIV because they often marry an older man with more sexual experience and also, they often show signs symptomatic of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress such as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. According to the research done by UNICEF, each year 12 million girls are getting married before they are 18, that is 23 girls in every minute. While countries with the highest density of child marriage are mostly in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa, due to population size, the largest number of child brides dwell in South Asia. Another research done by the United Nations Population Fund in 2012, shows that Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe with an estimated 15% of girls married before the age of 18.
The reason for choosing the topic is child marriage is one of the most important problems in a developing or undeveloped country because it causes really major problems in the future. Early marriages deny the (especially the girls) victims chance to get a decent education and realize their maximum potential. Without the education, their chances of ever getting empowered are limited thus limiting them to very few economic opportunities to better their future. Also, child marriages induce violence between young couples so people should get informed about this topic in order to keep a number of child marriages as low as possible.
Solutions to early marriages
Education and empowerment of the girls
The practices of early child marriages are caused by a number of few factors that if addressed can be solved. The problem of child marriages is still a major issue in developing countries including Turkey. There are approaches that will be able to solve the issue. The following are three main approaches that if adopted will solve the issue.
The first tactic is educating and empowering girls and women. The education strategy also involves educating the parents and the community about early child marriages. Research has shown that girls that are not educated are highly likely to be married at an early age. Also, consistent with the fact that uneducated girls come from communities that do not value education. If a girl has access to the primary, secondary and tertiary education, she has a better chance of getting employed and thus sustaining themselves and their families. It is, therefore, important to reach out to the community also and educate them on the importance of educating the girl child. Tostan is a non-profit organization that helps girls in Senegal access primary education. Empowering girls and offering them equal opportunities will reduce the early child marriages. The girls should be empowered by allowing them to get an education on health, sex, and their basic human rights. They can also be given opportunities that will allow the girls to gain meaningful skills, get networks and create a group of girls that they can meet away from home to discuss their issues and help each other out.
The education approach should be offered to the parents and their community at large to understand why it is important to abolish and stop encouraging the early child marriages of the girls. Many parents still think that it is a way to make the girls be economically secure and protect them. Some communities in a bid to avoid pre-marital sex believe that it girls should be married off as early as possible to avoid committing that taboo (Turkey). However, with enough education to both the community and the parents, they will understand how early child marriage can have adverse effects on the child. They will understand that it will lead to early pregnancy and the body of the girls might not be able to handle. That way the community and the parents will defend and protect their girls from early marriages so that they do not have to go through that ordeal.
Support legislation against Child Marriages
The anti-child marriage organizations and the women rights advocates main agenda is to get governments to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years. That age is reasonable and the child would have been given a chance to mature and be able to make decisions by herself. To stop child marriages anyone that sees that an individual or apparent is breaking the law of the legal age marriage must be reported to the authorities. The authorities will then follow up in the matter and ensure that the perpetrators face the law. This approach will ensure that any policies that have been placed against child marriages is observed and followed to the latter. Advocating for such laws, creating awareness among the community and the government officials will help encourage and enable the enforcement of the existing rules and initiatives to protect the girls’ rights against early marriages.
Economic Support and incentives to the girls and their families
One of the main factors that force girls into early marriages is intergenerational poverty. Some parents may be well aware of the adverse effects the exercise will have on their child but will be compelled to marry her off at an early age. Some will argue that they need the dowry or the money paid for the older sister to support the younger children. Additionally, the economic challenges will make it hard for the families to be able to either educate or empower the children. It is in this situations that they may prefer to educate the boy over the girls. To prevent the families from marrying the girl off, governments, well-wishers, and other NGOs may provide the families with economic incentives that will make the families stand firm in their decision not to offer the girl for marriage. The families can be provided with incentives like loans, a chance to learn a skill can immediately relieve the family a certain financial burden to families that were struggling. Additionally, the girl will be able to learn a skill and empower herself for a better future.
Evaluation and Suggestion
All the three solutions are adaptable in Turkey. The solutions are general and they can be accurately adopted in Turkey to stop the early child marriages in the country. The solutions are general but they can be customized a little to meet the requirements before it can be applied to Turkey.
The first solution is educating and empowering both the girls, parents and the community of the turkey people. One of the main reasons that Turkey has the highest number of child marriages in Europe is because the girls are always expected to still conform to the traditional gender expectations and norms. As a result, girls in the country are valued for their ability to be good wives and mothers. Due to that, little emphasis is placed on their education thus the number of girls that go to school is still low. The patriarchal values can be seen as one of the major issues. Taking into that account, education, therefore, has to cater for the girls’ parents and communities. The community must be educated on the adverse effects and the benefits if empowering the girl child. For turkey to also be able to beat the child marriages, emphasis must be placed on the importance of education the girls. They should just not be viewed as wives but rather as a human being who deserve equal chances at life.
The second approach that will work in Turkey is to support the legislation against child marriages in Turkey. However, the country needs advocating and pushing for stricter laws that ban completely the child marriages. The country has the legal marrying age of 17 years but under special circumstances the civil code allows the children to be married at 16 years. Additionally, the country’s birth registration process is poor as a result the parents can marry off their daughters without any repercussions. However, the country passed an absurd law that exonerates perpetrators of the child marriages if they marry their victims. Together with the 50 organizations that run the platforms of ‘’No To Child Brides’’ the country citizens, International center, Nirengi Darnegi, Turkish Women Union and KAOS GL should advocate for laws that are more strict and rigid when it comes to the child marriages. The moment exemptions are made; they expose the children of getting married when they are still too young.
The third approach that can work is the economic incentives to the citizens. The country experience influxes of refugees from Syria. UNHCR conducted a research in 2014 and found that most of the girls in Turkey Syria have 13-20 years as the average marriage years. Additionally, their parents outlined that if they were financially well off they would not have had to marry off their daughters. This crisis of refugees and result in poverty that is a factor that encourages early marriages in Turkey. Additionally, parents always want to reduce the household expenses in their houses or want to protect their child from the dangerous environment of the camps. From this approach, the citizens from poor backgrounds should be empowered and provided with necessary economic incentive so that the child marriages would significantly reduce. Turkey can ensure that it provided the refugees with employment opportunities and other training that will allow the families and the girls to be financially stable. That way they will not be easily susceptible to early marriages.
The approaches suggested will be able to work in any part of the world. The approaches are general and for working in any part of the country it just needs a little customization to fit the countries problems, culture and the factors that cause the child marriages to increase in the area. Therefore, if a country would like to reduce early child marriages they countries should educate and empower the girls, their parents, and the communities. The country should also place keen emphasis on increasing the legal age of marriage and advocating for more laws to protect their young girls. Additionally, the organizations, NGOs, and well-wishers can support the families to avoid the financial burdens that they are facing. That way they will have the necessary tools to keep child marriage away from their borders.
Care, To Protect Her Honour: Child Marriage in Emergencies – the fatal confusion between protecting girls and sexual violence, 2015
UNFPA, Child marriage country profile: Turkey, 2012
Girls, not Brides. Girls Marriage around the world: Turkey
UNICEF, Child marriage data, 2018