‘With time, we got to know each other’

As Sultan Tümerdem approaches her sixth decade, she says she is “very happy” with her life, her husband and two sons. A homemaker in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, she recalls she felt “very crushed” when she was forced to leave school to marry. She was so young at the time, she says, it was as if she, her husband and their sons grew up together.


I was forced to get married. I didn’t know anything. I was a child.

They took me, and I thought I was going to come back. But no, they weren’t bringing me back.

I got married, then a year later, I had a son.

It was nice. I don’t know. I was a child, too.

We grew up together with my son.

I had never met my husband. I didn’t know him. With time, we got to know each other.

I am very happy now, thank goodness. I have two sons like lions. They are in good places. I live with my husband.

They shouldn’t get married early because in early marriages, people feel very crushed when they get married early.

Because you don’t know anything. I didn’t go to school, and so I was crushed even more.

Young people now are very smart and informed. At a certain age, by seeing each other and getting along, they get married. This is a very nice thing.

My message to young people. Let them be very happy. Life is too short.” 

What the community says

Amerikada da bu böyle deyip bu olayları meşrulaştırmayınız,eğer böyle düşünüzseniz onlar bizimkiler kadar çaresiz ve ezik yetişmiyorlar. Bu soruna ileride çare bulunmaz ise dizginlenemez hale gelir,çünkü bizim topluma vur dersin,öldürür.Kız çocuklarının okuması bunun için önemli,çünkü evliliğe bakış açıları aileye yük olan kız çocuklarının başka birinin beslemesini sağlamak. Aileye bakış açısı bu. İleri yaşlarda evliliklerde bile kadın evi üzerime yaparsan ile başlıyor,çünkü evlilik de güven sevgi, saygı yerine kendisini baba evinden kurtaracak ,bakacak biri ile evlenebiliyor

TRANSLATION: Don’t legitimize this incident by saying ‘it is the same in America’. They are not raised in such desperate environments some Turks are. If we cannot find a solution to this problem it will get out of control. This is why it is so important for girls to go to school because the mindset is that these girls are a burden to their family and that they have to get married to lift that burden and find someone who can take care of them. This is how they see the family. Even if they marry at a later age, the first thing they ask is to register their name as the owner of their house because marriage values like confidence, love and respect are replaced by an urge to save themselves from being a burden on their family and find someone who can take care of them

Canan Baser Unen

Bursa, Turkey

Burdaki video çocuk yaşta evlilik değil hayatını minimum şartlarda sürdüren bir ailenin yeni gelir kapısı bulma çözümüdür. Bugün çok şükür yaşlı aylığı yetim maaşı ile bu tür dramların önü kesilmiştir. Artık medya internet vs ile erken cinsellikle tanışan neslin cinsel ilişki rıza yaşı önemlidir. Bu da mesela Belçika'da 14'e kadar inmiştir

TRANSLATION: This video is not about child marriage, it is about a family with a tight budget, looking for a new income channel. Thanks be God, in today’s Turkey, with the new benefits towards seniors and orphans, these type of tragedies are being prevented. We have to pay attention to the fact that the new generation of teens are having their first sexual experience at very early ages because of the internet and the media. In Belgium for example, age of having first sexual experience has dropped to as low as 14

Sezgin Yesiltas

Fatsa, Turkey

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Global perspective

Percentage of women married before 18
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Show map

United States


The number of children married per 1,000, ages 15-17 years old

(That's about .6%
of 15- to 17-year-olds .)

The term ‘child marriage’ refers to formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl or boy under age 18 lives with a partner as if married. In an informal union, a couple lacks a formal civil or religious ceremony. Our graphic is based on United Nations information. The main sources are national census and household surveys, including the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Surveys are subject to sampling and measurement error. We used the U.N. child marriage and population figures to approximate how many women in each country were married before 15 and before 18.

Source: “Child Marriage Database”. UNICEF (March 2018)

“World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017)