December 11, 2018 Print

The Istituto Bruno Leoni awarded the 2018 Bruno Leoni Prize to Canan Arin at their annual dinner in Milan. She won for her work fighting against the practice of child brides in Turkey. The Bruno Leoni Prize honors one person each year whose work has advanced the cause of individual liberty and free markets.  

The prize is a small statue of the flame of Lady Liberty,” says Alberto Mingardi, general director of IBL. “Year after year we pass [the torch], so to say, to people who gave a notable contribution to freedom.”

Canan Arin, a lawyer from Ankara, has been fighting against arranged, under-age marriages for her entire career. GirlsNotBrides estimates that 15% of Turkish girls get married before the age of 18, giving Turkey one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe. According to the Washington Post, Arin has been a key part of the fight for women’s rights in Turkey.  She founded the country’s first women’s shelter, The Purple Roof Women’s Foundation, in 1990. Her work has resulted in clashes with law enforcement and government authority before. However, Mingardi says, this only makes Arin’s “achievements all the more remarkable, important and valuable.”

“The problem with freedom is that we tend to forget how precious it is,” says Mingardi. “Think about not being able to choose whom you want to marry, and at what age to marry. Our Bruno Leoni Prize is an award for those people that, with their scholarship or with their political activism or both, gave an outstanding contribution to the cause of liberty. All these people taught us about freedom and inspired us to defend it. I think the same can be said of this brave woman, Canan Arin.”

In previous years, IBL has awarded the historian Richard Pipes, economist Deirdre McCloskey, and Venezuelan resistance leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Attendance at this event has been growing over the years, from less than 200  in 2008 to roughly 500 people a decade later. The dinner followed a regional conference held Students for Liberty featuring panel discussions on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as well as a debate on “Chile & Venezuela — the Free Market Miracle vs. the Socialist Disaster.” On the morning of the dinner, IBL co-hosted with SFL a discussion between Patrik Schumacher, CEO of the Zaha Hadid architects studio and Stefano Moroni, “Italy's Hayekian urbanist.”