Asya Ertan was a child bride who was forced into marriage at the age of fifteen. She subsequently suffered from domestic violence and harassment.
Currently living in the Idil district of Şırnak (Şirnex), a Kurdish-majority province in eastern Turkey, Asya Ertan – now aged 40 – has been living as a nomad (known as a ‘koçer’ in Kurdish) in the Botan region.
Ertan shared her story with Mesopotamia Agency. She reflected on how marrying at a child’s age has affected her life.
Child marriage has been a serious phemonenon and concern in Turkey and it reflects a pattern of gender inequality that reinforces stereotypical roles for girls, curtails their education, compromises their health, and causes women to be more vulnerable to physical and economical violence during their lives.
Asya Ertan has faced the most challenging of outcomes of child marriage: she has been subjected to violence since the day she was married when she was only fifteen.
‘I have spent my entire life working’
“When I got married, I was not even aware of this marriage: I could not understand it. It was very hard”, Ertan said. She has been living as a nomad with her family and migrating from one plateau to another with their animals in the Çiyayê Spî area in Şırnak. Despite her difficult circumstances, she has kept working and she has never given up the struggle. She states that the best thing for her is her love for nature and her animals.
“I have spent my entire life working. Since the age of fifteen, I have woken up early every day with the voice of the morning prayer and have started work. I’ve been working for so many years but I have never heard men, on even one day, use a sentence that acknowledges that what I do is work”, she said. “They have always underestimated women’s work”, she added.
‘I don’t have a childhood’
Asya had her first child in the first year of her marriage. Giving birth to a baby when she was a child herself caused her life-long health problems. She subsequently miscarried on seven occasions.
”My life has been spent in the plateaus and mountains. Till today, the best thing in my life has been nature, animals and plateaus. I feel the sadness of my unlived childhood all the time, because I haven’t had a childhood and I know I will never have one”, she said.
However, she asserted: “I see women are fighting and resisting. Let them increase their struggles. The life of each woman who is ‘sacrificed’ to a man should turn into a struggle”, she said. She had a special message for all women for the upcoming 8 March International Women’s Day event. “We should get what we deserve. We don’t need to ask for our rights from a man. I support the 8th March International Women’s Day initiative: it will lead the way to women’s freedom”, she said.