Will we see child marriage here under Islam?

We are sometimes flippant about the effect of Islam in NZ, but our Muslim population is increasing so we need to be vigilant about identifying abusive practices such as child marriage.

Whaleoil reported on New Zealand’s Muslim history and population growth: quote.

The number of Muslims in New Zealand according to the 2013 census is 46,149, up 28% from 36,072 in the 2006 census.  It will be interesting to see the numbers once the 2018 figures are released.” End of quote.

A shocking report on Turkey by Uzay Bulut for Gatestone claims that Islam is responsible for the worst abuses of girls and young women, and it is the authorities who are hiding the abuse.

One of the disturbing facts about Islam is that the Muslim religion always takes precedence over civil law.

Turkish women have lifted the lid on adolescent births in Turkish hospitals. Social worker, Iclal Nergiz has been persecuted by the hospital and other authorities for talking about the number of underage Turkish girls giving birth.  This has resulted in an investigation being launched against her, and she has had to move jobs and been subject to heavy pressure and harassment.  Nergiz said. Quote.

I noticed that a lot of pregnant adolescents, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds, 18-year-olds, came to the hospital. Some were pregnant with their second child. Almost all had come to our hospital previously… But they were not reported to anyone for years.

“…These children are said to be married with an imam marriage. I would not call that a marriage. What matters is official marriage. And these kids are not officially married… I saw a 16-year-old Syrian kid who was pregnant with her second child. She gave birth to her first child when she was 12. I cannot forget her.” End of quote.

According to the Turkish Civil Code, men and women cannot marry before they turn 18,  but, of course, this is ignored by Muslims.  Girls are further marginalised when they are married off as children and forbidden to work or to continue their education.

Selen Doğan, a member of Ankara-based Flying Broom Women’s Communication and Research Association said that one in four marriages in Turkey is a child marriage.  Quote.

There are only a few exceptions that allow someone to marry before turning 18. A 17-year-old person may be granted permission to be married with the consent of his/her parents or legal guardian; and a 16-year-old person may be granted permission to be married by a court decision and with the consent of his/her parents or legal guardian.

Nonetheless, Zelal Coşkun, a member of the Children’s Rights Commission of the IHD, said that child marriages have been on the rise in recent years:

According to the data of TÜİK [Turkish Statistical Institute], in the last 10 years, 482,908 [underage] girls have been married off with the permission of the state. In the last six years, 142,298 have become mothers and most got married in religious [Islamic] ceremonies.

About 250 pregnant girls under age 18 were treated at the hospital over a period of five months and nine days. I realized the cases of 115 of these girls were not reported to police. Nor were they recorded in the protocols of the hospital police.

[…]Every year, around 450 to 500 pregnant girls are taken to this hospital […] There is not a single door I did not knock on at the hospital concerning these 115 children. But I ended up being marginalized.”  End of quote.

The reality she helped to expose in that hospital is the reality of the entire country, Nergiz said. “The situation is the same all across Turkey. Moreover, what was exposed in that hospital is just the tip of the iceberg.”  Quote.

How many of these girls were already married when they arrived at the hospital to give birth and at what age did they get married? Or were they sexually abused out of wedlock? How many were later forced to marry their abusers? What happened to their babies? How many other children in Turkey are victims of similar abuses? It seems these questions will remain unanswered.

What is known is that child marriages, child rape, girls who become mothers although they themselves are still children, and other types of child sexual abuse are increasingly commonplace in Turkey.

Although the legal system of Turkey is not yet based on Islamic sharia law, Islamic teachings and traditions still largely shape the thinking and behavior of many people — including their views of child marriage and child abuse. The greatest victims of the Islamization of societies still seem to be girls and women.End of quote.

Sexual abuse against children in Turkey increased by 700% in the 10 years to 2017, according to the Diyarbakir Bar Association. 440,000 children under the age of 18 have given birth since 2002, according to Turkey’s Human Rights Association.

Will we see child marriage in New Zealand under Islam?  Given that forced marriages are already happening here, although predominantly arranged Indian marriages who are not minors, the answer is unfortunately, yes.

Five years ago a newspaper reported Quote:

Almost 800 girls under 18 were married in New Zealand in the past decade, and women’s rights activists believe a number of those marriages were against the will of the brides.

It is not illegal for 16 and 17-year-olds to marry with parental consent but activists suggest a number of those marriages are forced by the parents.

Forced marriages are difficult for police and social services to detect and are often associated with physical, financial or psychological abuse.

Government agencies said they knew they were happening.

Shakti, which runs four refuges for Asian, African and Middle Eastern women in Auckland and Wellington, receives about 600 calls to its crisis line a month.

Youth co-ordinator Shasha Ali said forced marriages mostly involved girls under 18. End of quote.

How we protect girls and young women is not even a topic for discussion given the closed-mindedness of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities to such a discussion here in New Zealand. As in Turkey, the practice will insidiously grow right under our noses.


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