11 Jul 2018

Turkish photographer stands up against child marriage

A Turkish photographer refused to photograph a couple's wedding day once he found out that the bride was only 15 years old. He became so angry he started a fight with the husband in an attempt to stop the wedding from taking place. 

Ans Boersma
Ans Boersma NewsMavens, Turkey
Turkish photographer stands up against child marriage - NewsMavens
Child exiting limo, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

"A child bride means child abuse, and no force in the world can make me photograph a child as a bride,” photographer Omar Albayrak stated on Facebook. He received much praise online for this actions. 

Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe with an estimated 15% of girls married before the age of 18, says the organization Girls Not Brides.

Human rights groups in Turkey often sound the alarm bell about the numbers of child marriage in the country, although it's forbidden by law. A dramatic rise in child marriage coincided with the influx of (Syrian) refugees into Turkey.

Earlier this year, Diyanet, the state institution of Religious Affairs in Turkey, stirred up controversy after it stated in an online publication that -- according to Islamic law -- a girl can be married at the age of 9. In 2016, a bill that pardoned men convicted of sex with underage girls once they married them also aroused public outrage. The government then withdrew the bill. 

Details from the story:

  • “The groom had come to my studio some two weeks ago and was alone. I saw the bride for the first time at the wedding. She’s a child, and I felt her fear because she was trembling. The groom attacked me as I was leaving,” Albayrak said. 
  • Albayrak repeatedly questioned the groom about the bride's age when he thought she might be under age.
  • The legal minimum age to get married in Turkey is 18. A judicial order can be obtained to marry off 17 year olds, but only in special circumstances. It is not legal to marry at any age younger than that.

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