- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2018

Turkey’s under fire for an online glossary posting that suggests girls as young as age nine can indeed marry.

Welcome to the world according to Islam.

Of course, facing concerted backlash, the post was quickly removed. But not before CBS and other media outlets captured its text.

“The glossary of Islamic terms, which has since been removed, defined marriage as an institution that saves a person from adultery and said girls can marry when they reach puberty — as early as age 9,” CBS reported. “The Directorate of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet, has denied approving underage marriages and said the glossary merely interpreted Islamic laws.”

But child advocates aren’t buying Diyanet’s assurances. That’s because Turkey has seen a hike in religious conservatism in recent times, and fears are that Islamic and sharia-like teachings will supplant more secular views of governing.

For instance, it was only a couple years ago that the government considered a bill granting pardons to men who had sex with underage girls, so long as they married them. Critics called the legislation a rubber-stamp approval for statutory rape — and rightly so. That’s pretty much what it was.

The bill was quickly withdrawn.

But the Islamic beliefs persist.

“Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe with an estimated 15 percent of girls married before the age of 18,” the nonprofit GirlsNotBrides.org reports. “However, statistical data available may not be representative of the scale of the issue since most child marriages are unregistered and take place as unofficial religious marriages.”

And just this past November, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the “mufti law,” giving certain clerics the ability to marry couples — an authority which takes the ceremony away from the watchful eyes of civil authorities and puts it in the hands of the religious powers. What’s been the result? More child marriages conducted by the very religious leaders who interpret Islam to allow child marriages.

It’s a stain some in Turkey are trying to erase.

Lawmakers with the opposition Republican People’s Party, for example, have asked parliamentary leaders to investigate this recent posting of Islamic interpretation.

“The Turkish Civil Code clearly states that adulthood begins at the age of 18,” CHP’s MP for Izmir, Murat Bakan, said on Twitter, BBC reported. “Early marriages violate children’s rights, women’s rights, human rights. As CHP MPs, we ask parliament to investigate child marriages.”

That’s well and good. An investigation is certainly warranted.

But let’s be serious — it’s not the government, per se. It’s the religion. And addressing that root cause will take much more than a government-sanctioned investigation. It’ll take a complete overhaul of Islam and its teachings — an utter tossing of its archaic principles, savage notions, abusive tenets and misogynistic ways of life.

Contact Cheryl Chumley on Twitter, @ckchumley, or email, cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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