The lawsuit in which lawyer Canan Arın, who is one of Mor Çatı’s founders and has been fighting with violence against women for a very long time, has led a great reaction around the world. Apart from 42 women’s organisations in Turkey, 85 women’s organizations in 31 countries such as Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, America, England, and Zimbabwe have supported the struggle against early marriages in Turkey.
The lawsuit in which lawyer Canan Arın, who is one of Mor Çatı’s founders and has been fighting with violence against women for a very long time, has led a great reaction around the world. Apart from 42 women’s organisations in Turkey, 85 women’s organizations in 31 countries such as Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, America, England, and Zimbabwe have supported the struggle against early marriages in Turkey. A letter is delivered to the President of Republic of Turkey, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies stating that “It is not ‘a crime’ to struggle for violence against women. The lawsuit is judging the struggle against male violence.” Moreover, there were thousands of individual supporters most of whom were politicians, jurists, journalists and artists such as Claudia Roth, Şirin Tekeli, Şahika Yüksel, Bertil Emrah Oder, Nurcan Özkaplan, Yakın Ertürk, Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı, Meltem Ahıska, Meryem Koray, Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Nükhet Sirman, Selma Acuner, Zeynep Oral. Women’s organizations continue to create public opinion by touching upon the lawsuit at an international level and wrote a letter to Abdullah Gül, the President of Republic of Turkey. The following passage was declared on the letter:
“Today, early marriages are defined as violence in all around the world as early pregnancy may cause deaths of young girls. We are struggling for raising awareness about early marriages as a type of violence. We also consider freedom of expression on this issue as an indispensable part of the struggle. Today, political leaders in the world do address the issue of early marriages. We demand Turkish state authorities to play an important role in the struggle against child marriages in the region, cooperate with women’s organizations closely, recognize people’s freedom of speech and encourage discussions on the issue.”
Having attended a meeting as a lecturer on violence against women which was held by the Union of Turkish Bar Association on 4th of December, 2012, Canan Arın drew attention to child marriages and mentioned that customs are amongst the reasons. Moreover, the significance of the issue was discussed at the Parliament. In the Parliament’s Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men report in 2009, it was stated that “child marriages consist one fourth of marriages in Turkey and the problem is rooted in conventional and religious beliefs, lack of education, domestic violence, and societal oppression.” Canan Arın gave examples of a marriage of the prophet of Islam which took place hundreds of years ago and of Abdullah Gül, the President of Republic of Turkey, in order to indicate that early marriages have existed in the region for a very long time. However, some male lawyers rather than discussing the importance of the issue from a legal point of view targeted Canan Arın and despite the fact that they even hadn’t attended the meeting they filed complaints against her claiming that “the prophet of Islam was insulted”. Their requests for involvement in the lawsuit were admitted by the court based on the ground that they were “Muslims”.
The unjust practices continued in the 2nd trial on 16th of April, 2013. One of the complainants implied that Canan Arın and her representatives were in danger, referring to Sivas incidents and tried to silence the women and Canan Arın’s lawyers in the court, shouting “Shut your mouth up!” The judge, rather than officially recording the testimonies and filing a complaint, blamed attorneys of Canan Arın for being argumentative.
Next hearing of the lawsuit is on 30th of May. Academicians from Galatasaray University and Yeditepe University and Prof. Dr. Nur Centel have stated in dictum that a crime has not been committed.
The 3rd trial of this unlawful lawsuit, will take place on 30th of May, 2013 at 10:30 a.m in the 18th Civil Court of General Jurisdiction. We call for participation of all women’s organizations, the representatitives of media and NGOs as observers in the trial tomorrow.
P.S: The letters and signatures of international women’s organizations are enclosed as well as the list of supportive women’s organizations in Turkey.