“Turkey’s directorate of religious affairs has declared that Islamic law allows girls to marry at age 9, prompting outrage on social media and calls for a parliamentary inquiry from the country’s main opposition party. The Diyanet, a government body that employs all of the country’s imams, provides Quranic training for children, and drafts weekly sermons that are delivered at the country’s 85,000 mosques, had issued a statement on its website claiming that Islamic law dictates that adolescence begins for girls at age 9 — and that girls who had reached the age of adolescence had the right to marry.
The Diyanet has claimed that its intention was merely to define a contentious point of Islamic law and that the declaration would not change the country’s minimum age of marriage — typically 17 years of age, although exceptions can be granted for those who are age 16. Secular critics, however, have suggested that the move is clearly intended to encourage child marriage by pointing to the widespread use of unofficial religious weddings that often involve underage participants, the recent passage of a law that allows Muslim clerics to conduct civil marriages, and the grim reality that an estimated third of all legal marriages in the country already involve girls under the age of 18.”
With over one billion Muslims, the 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Survey interviewed about 1,000 in each of seven Islamic countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. Large majorities of the Muslim respondents in these countries favor gender equality but women are more like to support it, as is true elsewhere: 84% of women said they believe women should have equal rights, compared to 65% of men.[i] The greatest support was in Lebanon and Turkey and the least in Nigeria (only 39%). The less they prayed the more they were supportive of equality. Shiites were more in favor of equal rights than Sunni Muslims. Overall, college educated young people, less religious people and women were more supportive of women being able to work outside the home, but in regard to the five questions, “Age had an extremely limited overall effect.’
[i] Saidat Ilo and Richard Seltzer, “Gender in the Midst of Change: Examining the rights of Muslim Women in Predominately Muslim Countries,” Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, January 2015, pp. 49-69.
Women’s rights activist Benal Yazgan organized the new Woman Party (Kadin Partisi) party in 2014 because: “Once again, hegemony is being passed from man to man. The patriarchy is the same; they always leave women out and pass the roles amongst themselves.” She drew on the legacy of the influential People’s Party of Women created in 1923 but not recognized by the government. (Suffragette Alice Paul led the Woman’s Party in the US in 2013.) Aiming for equality, the nine founders included two men and a quota for male candidates.
Rossalyn Warren, “18 Badass Women You Probably Didn’t Hear About In 2014, BuzzFeed, December 8, 2014.