The Ministry of Family and Social Policies has launched a project to fight early marriages in the eastern city of Ağrı where this disturbing phenomenon is more prevalent than anywhere else in Turkey.
To decrease the number of so-called "child brides," the ministry will campaign for the schooling of girls in the city where such marriages are three times more prevalent than in other cities.
In a recent visit, Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya said they picked Ağrı as a "pilot province" for the campaign to eradicate the trend. She also added that they would set up committees to prevent early marriages.
"We desire that girls go to school and be stronger. They belong in schools," Kaya told reporters.
She said the ministry's recent efforts against early marriages have been mostly paying off, with more girls attending school instead of being forced to marry at an early age but it was still not enough.
Statistics show that Ağrı has the highest rate of early marriages at 15.7 percent and that 733 girls were forced into underage marriages last year.
Early marriage is a serious social problem in Turkey where the phenomenon is more prevalent in rural areas. Experts say it has social legitimacy despite an official ban and outdated social values and economic factors are major factors behind those marriages.
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