A new regulation by the government published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday enables authorities to ask for a license of marriage from couples applying for marriage. The move was lauded by some as the right action against potential domestic violence cases while others complain it simply means more red-tape for prospective brides and grooms.
An amended article on regulations on officiating marriages says applicants for marriage should have a marriage license as well as a marriage permission document. The license is described as a document showing the person "is eligible for marriage at the time of marriage," although a more detailed description of the document was not included. Experts interpret it as a document that will prove the spouses do not have a violent past or any psychological illness that may lead to bursts of lethal violence. However, the obligation was criticized by some social media users who said it would further complicate the marriage process and provide a means of intervention for the state into people's private affairs.
Currently, a health report showing that both spouses are free from communicable diseases is sufficient for formal marriage.
The amended article says civil servants tasked with officiating the marriage are required to check the documents of the couple and "whether their IDs do not have any conflict with their marriage license." "If a conflict is detected, the civil servant is obliged not to approve the marriage," it says.
İsmet Uçma, an Istanbul lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party, made the headlines last week when he spoke about "a marriage license" against domestic violence cases.
Uçma welcomed the regulation, and said it would contribute significantly to "healthier generations with happier marriages" and curb domestic violence.
He said the license was an important development for protecting family life. "People show scrupulous attention while buying a new car, a house or anything. However, they sometimes fail to pick their future spouse with the same diligence," Uçma says, adding that choosing the right person for marriage is important for the future of Turkey's youth.
The lawmaker had recently proposed at a meeting of the Parliament's committee against violence towards women, that the "neighborhood culture" of the past should be brought back. "In small towns, neighborhoods, people know each other, but this is not the case in big cities. I propose the establishment of family consultation centers in well-populated cities. They can be staffed by community leaders, psychiatry, psychology, sociology experts who will offer (pre-nuptial and post-nuptial) advice to the youth," Uçma said.
He says that the state should also present information of "individuals in the risk groups," such as people with criminal records or those with communicable diseases to their future wives and husbands. "It will be up to the spouse to decide whether to marry or not. The state can also offer rehabilitation and treatment for such individuals so that he or she can marry," he says.
Despite legal reforms, precautions and efforts to curb the disturbing phenomenon of domestic violence that result in death, it is still a major concern in Turkey.
According to figures from the Turkish National Police, throughout 2014, 118,014 women were victims of domestic violence and 133 women lost their lives in domestic violence cases. Moreover, 23 women lost their lives while they were under temporary precautionary measures by security forces, and 21 others were killed while they were under the protection of on-duty officers.
İsmet Uçma says the media also has a role to play in minimizing domestic violence. "Instead of simply announcing the news of people murdered by their spouses, the media should adopt condemning language and bring the case to the spotlight rather than treating them as plain murders," Uçma said.