Fake brides, stolen money and gold, and a popular TV host who suggests changing ancient traditions" />

Marriage used as a scamming method in Turkey

Fake brides, stolen money and gold, and a popular TV host who suggests changing ancient traditions

How coffee is served in Istanbul. Photo: David Pipia, JAMnews

Fake marriage stories have recently surfaced in the Turkish media’s weekly crime reports.

Here is one such example: The preparations for a wedding ceremony were underway in the Bursa province on 16 December 2017. The bride travelled from Hatay to the groom in Bursa. However, the day before the wedding she ran off, taking with her all the gold and money that the groom presented to the bride.

Criminal groups that organize such fake marriages en masse in various regions throughout Turkey have turned the peculiarities of Turkey’s lifestyle, its customs and mind-set into a means of ‘easy pickings’.

How it is organized

There is usually a young and beautiful woman in a group who is introduced as a bride.

The group also includes a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, an uncle and some other next of kin, though in most cases they aren’t biological relatives. They bring the pretty girl into the public eye and thus attract those men who want to start a family. Afterward all the customary ceremonies are conducted: matchmaking, engagement, the so-called ‘Henna night’ and the wedding, i.e. everything, right up to the actual conclusion of an official marriage.

The groom’s family has to pay a substantial sum for the pre-wedding ceremonies:

The groom’s family has to pay a fixed price for the bride during the matchmaking;

The bride is presented at least 3-4 bracelets along with a wedding ring during the engagement ceremony;

Clothes are presented to the bride as well as to all members of her family, and

bracelets, clothes and gifts are purchased again for the ‘Henna night’.

Then comes the wedding ceremony, during which not only the groom’s family but all the guests who come for the wedding present gold and money to the bride and groom. Quite a substantial sum is accumulated at the end of the entire process. And then the ‘bride’ an her ‘family’ take all the jewellery and money and run away.

The Syrian influence in fake marriages

This ‘business’ has acquired a geopolitical context over the past two years. Some Syrian refugees who fled the war and took refuge in Turkey have been involved in it.

For example, a large group comprising primarily the Syrians, who deceived at least a dozen people through promises of marriage were arrested a couple of months ago in the Elazığ province.

A Syrian national was also involved in the aforementioned incident with a ‘bride-to-be’ from Hatay. According to Gencgazete.net online media portal, a native of Bursa, R.A., met a Syrian woman residing in Hatay though the individuals identity wasn’t made public in the interests of the investigation. He fell in love and decided to marry her.

The ‘bride’ was brought from Hatay and the wedding preparations started. Apart from paying the ‘bride price’ R.A. also presented three bracelets, a pair of earrings and one ring to her.

When the woman disappeared a day before the wedding, the man realized that he had been swindled and turned to the gendarmerie.

The bride at this wedding is of Syrian nationality. However, it was a real wedding and it proved to be happy. The local musicians are performing a dance for bride Rema and her Turkish groom Rasim. Hatay Province, June 2011. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Exploiting ‘fake brides’

The most scandalous story on the theme of marriage fraud recently aired on the highly-rated Turkish TV program Müge Anlı ile Tatlı Sert – Sweet severity with Müge Anlı on the ATV channel.

The show probes into criminal cases, searches for missing persons and carries out social projects.

One of the programs focused on the incident in the city of Samsun in October 2017. The wedding ceremony there ended in a mass brawl between the relatives of the groom and the bride. Twelve people, including the bride, suffered injuries of varying degrees and were taken to hospital.

Both conflicting parties were invited to the studio to express their opinion.

The bride, Dudu, came to the studio accompanied by her father and uncle. She said that she’d been beaten just for asking why the jewellery presented by the guests were put on the groom rather than on her.

Bilgin, the groom, claimed the bride’s family attempted to con him right from the very beginning.

Large sums were involved: the ’bride price’ amounted to TRY 10 000 [about USD 2 600] and the young couple were presented with gold jewelry weighing over 500 gr.

“It was only the second week since we met and her family was already hurrying with the marriage. They said that the bride’s father (the one who came to the program) was seriously ill and he wanted to see his daughter’s wedding,” said Bilgin.

After the brawl at the wedding party it became clear that Dudu had ‘almost’ got married several times before, but she would disappear at the very last moment, along with all the money and gifts.

“And they purposefully staged that brawl at our wedding party so that they could run away with the gold,” claimed Bilgin.

Dudu and her family couldn’t deny the fact that she’d been previously engaged several times. However, they claimed that all the gifts and money had been returned to the former grooms.

The story doesn’t end there. Some time later Dudu suddenly told journalists a different version of what had happened.

“My family arranged everything. They wanted to get their hands on the money and gold. And I was constantly dosed with medicine so that I wouldn’t argue and would do everything they demanded. My father has that gold now and it was he who started a brawl at the wedding,” the Hürriyet newspaper cited Dudu saying.

An investigation into the case is underway. Dudu has been placed in a temporary women’s shelter.

“There should be a café in each village”

Such cases have become so frequent in Turkey that the program host Müge Anlı appealed to the public with a proposal to launch a special social project.

“All this is linked to the closed nature of our community, especially in the provinces. Women don’t go outdoors, they can’t communicate with the men as it’s highly disgraceful. Men sit in the coffee shops that women aren’t allowed to enter. Therefore families aren’t built on healthy relationships,” said the prominent TV host.

“We should open cafés and delicatessens in every village so that both men and women could go there. Thus there will be no need for young men to marry unknown girls from remote areas, having paid for them like some stuff,” says Müge Anlı.

“The very phenomenon of paying a ‘bride price’ should be completely eradicated from our daily life. A woman is not a commodity – neither for her parents nor for her husband,” Müge Anlı stressed in her televised appeal.

The proposed social project is rather simple: create conditions where young people can meet each other, communicate and then start a family with their perfect match, and also to exclude money from this process so that no one could benefit from the bride and groom, be it their families or criminals. The question now is how the public will respond to this proposal.

Brides and bridegrooms wait for the start of their wedding ceremony in Ankara, 6 August 2006. Two-hundred-and-six couples got married at an annual ceremony organized by the Ankara municipality. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

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