Our priority is to support everyone against gender-based violence. We work to ensure that women know their rights and receive legal aid. Nineteen-year-old Elvin, who was married twice as a child and survived violence, is one of the beneficiaries of our legal aid program.

Elvin* migrated to Hatay, Türkiye from Syria with her family when she was ten years old. Elvin, the eldest of the six children, does not remember anything about Syria, she says: "Our arrival here was very difficult, that's all I remember".

When Elvin was 16, she was married to her nineteen-year-old cousin in an unofficial marriage. "I got pregnant after six months, and then the troubles started," she says about this first marriage. The pressure she faced, especially from her mother-in-law, led her to the end of her marriage. When she was two months pregnant with her son, she decided to get a divorce and return to her family .


While she was raising her child in the family home where six  people lived, she learned through her relatives that a local man wanted to marry her. "I thought that Turkish people would value women more than Syrians. I thought he would offer me a better life", she said and accepted the marriage proposal. Unfortunately, it soon turned out that this was not the case at all.

Elvin was only 17 years old when her second husband refused to raise her child, so she left her son with her family and went to live with the new husband's family. There was no official marriage, and from the very first day, lies and then different forms of violence took the stage: "When we met, he was not working. He said he was looking for a job and would start working soon, but this never happened. After the wedding, he started to sell the house properties one by one. Before we got married, we had agreed that I would visit my family every three days to see my child, but he forbade me to leave the house and started to physically abuse me. His family confiscated my mobile phone. They prevented me from talking to my mom."

One day Elvin managed to go to her mother and explained her situation. Then, shereturned to her family’s home. However, the threats continued and Elvin and her family contacted the police to make a complaint, but they were unable to access the legal aid they had requested because they were unable to provide any evidence.


The February 6, 2023 earthquake in Türkiye, which occurred six months after Elvin's return to her family, fortunately did not cause any loss of life or property. Although their house was damaged, they still continued to live in it. Six months after  the earthquake, Elvin’s husband  told her that he regretted what he did. Elvin agreed to marry him officially. In response to the question why she accepted this offer despite what she had been through; "I still loved him, and I thought that maybe he would improve after the official marriage". But once again Elvin's hopes were dashed. When violence and threats increased even more after the official marriage, they went to the police one night with the encouragement of her mother. Afterwards. a 20-day restraining order was issued.

It was during this process that Elvin met Support to Life. "Support to Life teams came to one of our neighbours to hold an information session on legal aid and combating violence against women. My mother and I attended the session, then I told the organization’s legal staff that I wanted to get out of my situation and requested their support."


As part of the project on the protection of refugees against gender-based violence, funded by the European Union and implemented in cooperation with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), we supported Elvin's access to legal aid. The first hearing of the divorce case was held thanks to this support. The next hearing of the contested divorce case will be held later this month.

Elvin, burdened with the responsibility of taking care of children and having survived gender-based violence, pauses a little when she hears the question 'What are your expectations for yourself and your child from now on?', looks around, but she does not say much. Perhaps she thought about what she had been through since her childhood and the fragility of expectations. She still needs more time to mentally overcome what she has gone through, but for now, she is safe.

We are working for young girls like Elvin to receive help and know their rights, so they can be resilient and protect themselves from all sorts of violence.

*The name of our beneficiary has been changed to protect her personal rights.

Gözde Kazaz / Communications Expert


Subscribe to Our Newsletter