Turkey marked the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child with horrendous data that showed 542,821 underage girls gave birth in the past 18 years, and hundreds of thousands were forced into marriages in the same period.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed that 20,392 of the underage girls who gave birth in this period were younger than 15 years of age.
Some 120,736 girls were forced into marriages between 2015 and 2019, TÜİK also said, while the unrecorded number of forced marriages is in fact much larger, Human Rights Association Ankara Children's Rights Commission member Sevinç Koçak noted.
The COVID-19 pandemic veils children's abuses, and another 2.5 million girls are at risk of being forced into marriages by 2025, an analysis by NGO Save the Children said. The group also noted that this would be the largest hike in the statistic in the past 25 years.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government has been repeatedly attempting to introduce draft legislation that suggests impunity to child abusers if the survivor marries the perpetrator.
Prompting widespread protest from women's rights advocates nationwide, the ruling government first designed the regulation in 2016 and has brought it up repeatedly since then.