Below is an altered translation of an extract from Yılmaz Özdil’s novel: “Kadın” [Women]. It is the story of a girl named “Kader” which means faith in Turkish…

Kader’s Story

In between the dust and smoke…

Kader left.

Married by the age of 12.

A mother by the age of 13.

And found dead by the age of 14.

Let us leave the world be today…

Let us let others discuss “significant issues”, let us let others save the world…

Let us, right here, right now, discuss Kader.

They opened the investigation immediately. They asked the father, why he married his daughter off at such a young age. They asked the “groom’s” father, why he accepted abride of such young age. They asked the mayor, why he wasn’t aware of the wedding. They asked the doctor, why he didn’t report the birth given at such a young age.

They didn’t, and won’t, ask the imam.

But the fact of the matter is… Isn’t the imam to blame?

If there was no imam to hold the wedding, could there even have been one?

I have been a journalist on these grounds for thirty years now, oh how many Kader – type stories we wrote… But it was too late for those girls. The families, interrogated; pedophiliac husbands, crazy aunts, and pervert relatives punished… Doctor’s condemned, mayor’s castigated. Everyone who had anything to do with the matter at hand were “touched” in a way.

The people who performed the “ceremony” were not.

If it weren’t for them (them being the imams), would there have been a wedding at all?

A judge is being searched for to make history.

Only one judge, to crack the door open…

The rest will follow.

Because I am claiming…

Punish the imams who marry the children off in the first place, and the child bride issue in Turkey will decrease by 90%.

Kader’s non-legal husband received a sentence of ten years, while her father and father in law received four. But then their sentences were lightened, and eventually their charges dropped. Basically, in due course, they were all released. Kader’s mom and mother in law were pardoned because it was concluded that the women didn’t have a say in these matters due to the social construct of the area. The imam, who held the religious marriage “ceremony” in the first place, was first searched for under the charge of “being an accessory to sexual assault”. Kader died in 2014. They searched for the imam for a year, but in 2015 the constitutional court of Turkey removed the regulations that there must be a legal marriage ceremony before a religious one, and removed the criminal sentence that an imam gets if he is to hold a religious ceremony before an official one is held in accordance with the law. Consequently, the imam who held Kader’s religious marriage was off the hook. The imam’s – who was allegedly being searched for for a year – identity was not even identified at the time. Everyone knew, everyone saw, but they weren’t even able to find the name of the imam.

Written By: Yılmaz Özdil

Translated By: İzgin Özdaş