Letter: Why destroy young love?

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Tatchell

Sir: Your thoughtful, compassionate editorial ("Sad tale of a modern- day Juliet", 25 January) on the hounding of the 13-year-old child bride, Sarah Cook, was a much-needed corrective to the hysterical, heartless reaction of the Turkish and British authorities. Although her marriage may be unlawful, there is no evidence that Sarah was coerced into, or harmed by, the relationship with Musa Komaegae. Indeed, she appears to have been very happy - until the heavy-handed intervention of officialdom.

Why the authorities should want to (or be allowed to) break up the love between these two teenagers is beyond my comprehension. Isn't there enough emotional unhappiness in the world without adding needlessly to it? Moreover, in an era when youth promiscuity is widely condemned, one would expect society to welcome Sarah's and Musa's love and fidelity, rather than seek to destroy it.

The authorities claim that they have Sarah's welfare at heart. However, it's hard to envisage that her welfare is best served by forcing her to undergo the humiliation of a so-called "virginity test" and by charging- the man she loves with rape, despite the evidently consensual nature of their relationship.

Astonishingly, even though Sarah has talked of suicide if she is kept apart from Musa, officials seem prepared to risk the possibility of such a tragedy. Yes, there is real harm being done to this young girl, but it's not being done by her boyfriend.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Tatchell

London, SE1