Forced into early marriage, now Berivan is elected mayor in Turkey

She is only a couple of weeks into her new job. But already Berivan Elif Kilic has big plans to help transform the lives of girls and women in her home district in Turkish.

The new mayor of Kocakoy is drawing on her own experiences when she talks about women's rights and the importance of education.

Berivan was taken out of school by her parents at 15 and forced to marry. Over the years, she suffered beatings from her husband until she finally had the courage at 28 to get a divorce.

She told The Daily Beast website: “People believe me when I talk about domestic violence. I was beaten up myself – I don't have my knowledge from books.”

Berivan, now 33, was elected on March 30 by the people of the farming district in Turkey's Kurdish region. Under the rules of the Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP), such positions are shared jointly by a man and a woman to promote females in politics. She is joint mayor with former imam Afullah Kar.

She is planning to set up workshops in Kocakopy to let women know about their rights and help to give them some basic education.

The mother-of-two said: “There is a lot of hope here now. Look at me – I have no education, no job, yet I am the mayor now.

“Women have been attending my rallies in droves. They say: 'If Berivan can do it, so can I.”

The minimum age for marrying in Turkey is 17. But child marriages are fairly common in rural areas.

A report in 2011 by the Ankara-based think tank The International Strategic Research Organization said one in three women in Turkey was below the legal age when she married.

In an interview before the election with Firat News, a Kurdish news agency, Berivan said: “My first aim in the elections is education. I want to provide women with information about their rights and a general education. Women teach children and will make them aware.”