On April 30, university students from across Turkey will gather at Bilkent for a “Volunteerism Summit” hosted by the Bilkent University Social Awareness Projects (TDP) student volunteer organization. The focus of the summit will be the issue of early and forced marriages; the International Children’s Center (ICC), which is headquartered on the Bilkent campus and has been a leader in raising awareness of this issue, will co-host the event.
TDP has been conducting community service projects at Bilkent for 14 years and currently has 14 ongoing projects reaching out to 14 different target populations. The summit will give the organization a forum for networking with fellow student volunteers from across the country while also addressing an important social issue. The slogan for the event, “Gelin Gitmesinler!”, is a play on the word “gelin,” which means both “bride” and “come” in Turkish: Come, so they don’t go [as brides]!
In this way, TDP and ICC hope to draw attention to the fact that early and forced marriages constitute negligence and abuse of the child, and also to remind everyone that the first article of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – which Turkey has signed and is therefore obliged to observe – declares that “every human being below the age of 18” is a child, and compelling children to marry is a violation of their rights.
During the summit, speakers will examine the issues of early and forced marriages from many different perspectives, with topics including the effects on education and the mental and physical health of children and adolescents, as well an overview of the situation in Turkey and worldwide. At a session on legal responsibility for early and forced marriages, children will speak about their own experiences.
In keeping with the other aspect of the event – as a forum where university student volunteers from many parts of Turkey will meet to share their ideas and learn from speakers with expertise in relevant fields – the summit will also include a panel on the role of volunteers and social responsibility projects in solving social problems.
For more information about the panel speakers and to register, please visit tdp.bilkent.edu.tr/gonullulukzirvesi