A new law enacted in Turkey that allows Muslim clerics to conduct civil marriages. Or so-called “mufti marriages” has been praised by Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, even as women’s rights activists warn that the law will increase the number of child marriages in a country where a third of all marriages are believed to involve girls under the age of 18. An announcement about the passage of the new law, which also bans individuals found to have performed “immoral acts” before marriage from becoming Turkish citizens, was published in the country’s official gazette on Friday. Last month, Erdo?an had warned that he would see the measure passed “whether you like it or not.”
“One man [Erdo?an] has the power,” explained opposition MP Selina Do?an, adding that women who protested the law in front of parliament were pepper sprayed by authorities. “Change to a political Islamist regime is planned.” Despite Turkey’s government being founded on secular principles, in recent years the government under Erdogan has banned public high schools from teaching evolution and also begun teaching students a state-sponsored explanation of Jihad.
The announcement of the new law comes a year after Turkey’s ruling AK party attempted to pass a law to exonerate men who raped children on the condition that they married them afterward. Under current Turkish law, the minimum age for marriage is 17, but exceptions can be made for girls aged 16. In fact, within the last two years, one study found that nearly one-third of marriages in Turkey involved child brides.
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