'Only Following Islam': Girls Must be Allowed to Marry at 9 – Turkish Government Body
Turkey’s opposition have demanded a parliamentary investigation into the Directorate of Religious Affairs, an influential government department, after it proclaimed that Islamic Law approved of boys marrying at 12 and girls at 9.
In an online religious glossary intended for the public released earlier this week, Diyanet, as the body is known, stated that these are the earliest ages for children to reach adolescence, and once the threshold of emotional and physical maturity is crossed, they must be allowed to marry “to save themselves from adultery.”
The statement ignited an immediate firestorm of opposition from politicians, women's rights activists, and secularists.
"The Turkish Civil Code clearly states that adulthood begins at the age of 18. Early marriages violate children's rights, women's rights, human rights. As CHP MPs we ask parliament to investigate child marriages," said Murat Bakan, a deputy from the main opposition party on Twitter.
In the city of Trabzon, female protesters staged a demonstration holding placards reading, “Stop exploitation of children!” while in Izmir, the banners proclaimed, “Child marriage is a crime.”
The legal marriage age in Turkey is 18, with exceptions for 17-year-olds with parental consent, and 16 year-olds with a court-issued permit.
Diyanet has taken down its original entry, clarifying that it “had never approved child marriages and never will”and insisting it was merely interpreting Islamic scriptures. It also emphasized that “consent” was a necessary condition of any union.