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Child Bride’s Death in Labor Amplifies the Call to End Child Marriage in Turkey

In the Mukti district of Turkey, a devastating incident occurred during the week of October 9, 2016, resulting in the untimely death of a young girl named Derya B. Reports from Metro reveal that she tragically lost her life while giving birth, with initial findings pointing to a brain hemorrhage as the cause.

Professor Aydan Biri, a gynecologist, shed light on the circumstances surrounding Derya’s death in an interview with Hurriyet Daily News. As reported by The Independent, Professor Biri explained that Derya’s young age at pregnancy likely contributed to the fatal outcome. “It is dangerous for a child bride to get pregnant,” she emphasized. “The pregnancies of children who have not completed their physical development and whose organs have not yet completely developed often end in death.”

According to available reports, Derya was married at the tender age of 14, despite the legal minimum age for marriage in Turkey being 17, or 16 with special court approval. This alarming discrepancy highlights the prevalence of child marriage in the country. Girls Not Brides, an organization dedicated to ending child marriage in Turkey, estimates that around 15 percent of girls are married before the age of 18 in the country. The deeply ingrained patriarchal values, which prioritize girls’ roles as wives and mothers while undervaluing education and tolerating violence against females, contribute to the high incidence of child marriage.

Child marriage is not solely a Turkish issue but a global problem, as emphasized by UNICEF. The organization reports that approximately one in seven adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 are currently married worldwide. UNICEF unequivocally states that “marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights.” Such early marriages are in direct contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark document adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

The implications of child marriage are far-reaching and detrimental to a girl’s development. Early pregnancy and social isolation often follow, hindering education and limiting opportunities for career advancement. Additionally, child brides are at a heightened risk of domestic violence.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to provide “free and full” consent to marriage. It emphasizes that such consent cannot be deemed “free and full” when one party involved lacks the maturity to make an informed decision about a life partner. The tragic case of Derya underscores the urgent need to address and eradicate child marriage, not only in Turkey but across the globe.

As the world grapples with the consequences of child marriage, it is crucial to advocate for the rights and well-being of young girls. Efforts must be intensified to raise awareness, challenge societal norms, and provide support systems that empower girls to exercise their right to education, personal development, and a safe and fulfilling future. Only then can we strive towards a world where every child can grow and thrive without the chains of early marriage.

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