From Early Marriage to Adolescent Pregnancy in Turkey: A Review Study in Socio-Cultural Context

From Early Marriage to Adolescent Pregnancy in Turkey: A Review Study in Socio-Cultural Context

Filiz Yildirim, Bilge Abukan, Duygu Oztas
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6108-8.ch005
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Early marriages/child marriages, defined as formal marriages or informal unions before age 18, have been studied within other adolescence issues in Turkey. Adolescence pregnancies resulting from early marriages in Turkey should not be evaluated without considering the socio-cultural context. This is because this problem occurs mostly under the marriage structure even if it is too early (under the age of 18) and families approve of such marriages. The purpose of this study is to discuss adolescent pregnancies as a result of early marriages in Turkey in accordance with the socio-cultural context pertaining to the social structure of Turkey.
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Individualization, along with social changes and modernity, has affected the marriage trends in Turkey. From 1980s on, individuals in Turkey have been marrying at later ages. Additionally, the rates of choosing partners outside the immediate circle, frequency in divorce and remarrying have been increasing. However, the persistence of family determination on choosing the person to be married and the fact that there has been an increase in the number and diversity of the ceremonies (such as betrothals, asking parent’s blessing ceremony, engagement, henna night, wedding ceremony, official wedding ceremony and religious wedding ceremony) during the marriage process show that traditional structure among marriages still remains solid (Yavuz & Gündüz, 2015). According to Family Structure Study (TurkStat, 2017a1), the ratio of the women who chose their partners on their own decisions and with family consent was 27.1% and that of men was 33.8%. The ratio of the women who were married with their own decisions and without their family approval was 2.6% and this figure was 2.5% among men. When it comes to the issues faced during the marriages, married individuals in Turkey do not entirely cut their relations off with their root families. According to Family Values in Turkey Study (T.R. Prime Ministry Directorate General of Family & Social Survey, 2010) 83.7% of the individuals stated that it was the family first that should be turned to in case of any material or moral problems. The ratio of the individuals who stated that they could take any burden for the wellbeing of their families was 90.3%. While almost 3 out of 4 individuals in the scope of this study (T.R. Prime Ministry Directorate General of Family & Social Survey, 2010) said domestic problems should be solved between partners, 66.3% of them maintained that domestic relations are also concern to their own parents as well as their partners due to their respect to older members of the family. In this sense, it can be said that emotional interdependence of the married individuals and their root families prevails even though they have economic independence or have their own places to accommodate in (Kağıtçıbaşı, 2007).

The fact that traditions and family interference are maintained in marriage preferences in Turkey is considered to be correlated with the persistence of patriarchal structure changing shape. Due to the patriarchal values dominant especially in rural areas, marriages are arranged in traditional ways. Marriages under 18 year of age (early marriages2), widely observed in rural parts, have become noticeable also in the cities as a result of the decrease in rural-urban split. Although legal conjugation age is 18 in Turkey, it is expected from the underage girls, especially in extended families, to play the role of a mother as well as being a spouse, a bride, and an adult woman (Çakır, 2013; Dağdelen, 2011). That is because, as Ege, Akin and Koçoğlu (2014) stated, premarital sexuality is not approved of in Turkish society, and society maintains a strict attitude against extramarital and random sex. For this reason, termination of the extramarital pregnancies can be observed. In the study of Korkmaz-Çetin et al., (2009) a termination of an extramarital pregnancy of an adolescent at the age of 16 living in a family where traditional values and concept of honor is dominant in one of cities in South east of Turkey was documented. It can be claimed that adolescent pregnancies are legitimized under matrimony frame as having premarital child is not found acceptable for family values in Turkey (T.R. Prime Ministry Directorate General of Family & Social Survey, 2010). Based on these points, prepared as a review, the purpose of this study is to discuss;

  • Adolescent pregnancies in the early marriages and

  • The risks of adolescent pregnancies related to early marriages peculiar to societal structure in Turkey in its sociocultural context.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Consanguineous Marriages: Are marriages to intimate relatives such as offspring of aunts from father side, mother side, or offsprings of uncles.

Adolescent Pregnancy: Is used in this study for pregnancies conceived in early marriages before the age of 18.

Wedding Processes: Including the premarital period, it refers to the ceremonies like asking parents’ blessing ceremony, betrothals, engagement, and wedding.

Traditional Structure: Refers to traditions passing down from one generation to another.

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