Concern grows over bride, aged 13


Turkish embassy officials said the marriage of a 13-year-old girl who dropped out of school to marry a Turkish waiter she met on a family holiday was illegal. The girl's 18-year-old "husband" could now face prosecution for having "under age" sex with her.

The official said couples could not normally marry until they were 18. With parental consent, the age limit was 17 for boys and 15 for girls.

In "very extraordinary cases", and with a judge's permission, girls could marry at 14 and have sex below the normal age of consent, which was 18. But Sarah was too young for such a ruling and her "husband" could be charged with having sex with a girl under the legal age.

Concern for the girl's welfare was growing last night, as her parents stood by their daughter's decision.

Sarah Cook, from Braintree, Essex, fell for Musa Kumeagae, 18, when she was just 12. She underwent a Turkish religious marriage ceremony attended by her parents, Adrian, 42, and Jackie, 39, two weeks ago. She is now living in Kahramanmaras, a remote town in south- eastern Turkey.

Last night she was reported to be looking forward to becoming pregnant: "We plan to start a family very soon. I really want a baby."

Essex social services have asked Sarah's parents to discuss the situation at a meeting today. Colin Davis, a social services spokesman, said: "That's all we can hope to do. The Foreign Office has advised us that while Sarah is in Turkey there is nothing we can do because she is there with parental consent. That's the situation we are faced with."

Richard Snelling, headmaster of Tabor High School, in Braintree, which Sarah used to attend, said yesterday: "We are talking about a very young girl. She's only just 13. She has four years of education ahead of her in England, so it's a real concern." He stressed that the 850-pupil school would welcome Sarah back at the first opportunity. "We would very much like that to happen but it doesn't look very likely at the moment," he added.

Mr Snelling became worried about Sarah last November when she failed to return to school after spending half-term in Turkey. "We alerted the education welfare office and, in turn, the social services, and they then took the issue up and dealt with the parents. From that point, Sarah did not come back to school," he said.

Sarah was taken off the school roll by the local education authority after her parents said she would receive schooling abroad. But Mr Snelling said yesterday he believed she was not being taught in Turkey.

Mr Kumeagae reportedly worked as a waiter in the hotel in where the family stayed last summer. He is believed to have proposed to Sarah while she was still 12, after a three-day fling in the Mediterranean resort of Elanya.

Mrs Cook told the Sun newspaper that she and her husband had been powerless to stop their "strong-willed" daughter falling in love. "I don't care what people think about her marrying - because she is loved and happy," she reportedly said. "If I hadn't taken her back to Turkey she would have found a way to get there herself - and we might have lost our little girl forever."

A spokesman for Essex police confirmed that they were holding a meeting later in the week to decide if any offences had been committed. "Obviously we are looking at under-age sex," he said. "But these offences took place in Turkey so are effectively out of our jurisdiction. We've got the other issue of a 13-year-old not attending school. There is a legal requirement for a child to attend school unless the parents can prove that adequate educational provision is being provided elsewhere."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine