For women, marriage before 18 years has adverse consequences for physical, mental, and emotional well-being and constitutes a barrier for continued education. According to a national survey, about 50% of all Eastern Turkey women at first marriage.
This study explored women’s opinions and experiences of early marriage and culture-specific marriage customs in the province of Diyarbakir, a region of Turkey populated mostly by people of Kurdish ethnicity. A random sample of 966 women aged 15 years or older living in urban and rural areas of the province completed a questionnaire on age at marriage and social status.
Early marriage frequency ranged from 19% in the youngest age group to 63% in women aged 60 years or older. Analysis of focus group interviews through a qualitative modified content method showed that girls were considered marriageable some years after the menarche, and considerations regarding family honor protection were crucial factors leading parents to arrange their daughters’ early marriage, sometimes without their consent. Some culture-specific marriage customs included cradle betrothal, cousin marriage, and berdel.
The study concluded that there is a need for public health and family planning workers to create greater awareness of early marriage’s adverse consequences through parental arrangements.