Today I attended a seminar about child abuse. It was organized by the senior class public relations students at Bilgi University. The moderator of the event was one of their professors, Betül Mardin, who is a very well-known public relations specialist. According to Wikipedia, she is called the grande dame of public relations. It was very nice to see her in person.
There were six talks and two panels. The speakers talked about child abuse in general but the main focus was child marriage. It is so sad that Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe. The figures vary depending on the amount of data available and the region surveyed. According to a national study, the average national rate of child marriage is 28 percent, but it reaches as high as 41 percent in the eastern and southeastern regions. (reference: hurriyetdailynews.com) The minimum marriage age for girls was raised from 15 to 17 but this does not prevent child marriage since the marriages are performed in religious way, which is not legally recognized.
The seminar today was a real eye opener for me. I think I don’t do anything about such a sad truth in Turkey apart from feeling horrible when I hear child abuse and child marriage stories.
During and after the seminar I thought about what we can do as educators. Here are a few ideas…
Learn how big and serious this issue is.
Here are some resources where you can read about child marriage:
Different news articles about child marriage. (in Turkish)
A recent article (in Turkish)
Flying Broom – A Turkish women’s organization working for the improvement of democracy and civil society. (English version of the webiste is also available.)
Child Bride Documentary by CNN Turk (in Turkish):
Talk about it.
If your students are old enough to understand and discuss the issue, talk about it in your lessons. Bring videos and articles to the class. Create your own discussion questions and activites.
Here are some resources you can use:
Girls Not Brides: Traditions can change – ending child marriage:
Join events, follow projects, share your reflections in social networks.
Video with English subtitles (The project manager was one of the speakers today):
I’d like to finish with a very good article by a Flying Broom member, Sevna Somuncuoglu. How can efforts to end child marriage in Bangladesh, India, Niger and Nigeria be applied in Turkey?
Well… I think one of my biggest wishes for 2014 and the following years is a dramatic decrease in child marriage rates in Turkey and all over the world.
LET GIRLS BE GIRLS, NOT BRIDES…#EndChildMarriage: tooyoungtowed.org
Some photos from today…