Turkey: Celebrations as ‘pro-child rape’ law defeated

Issue 
Ankara, November 22.

Hundreds of people protesting in front of Turkey’s parliament building in Ankara burst into celebrations on November 22 after the government announced the withdrawal of its proposal to exonerate child rapists.

Proposed legislation would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims.

The proposal, which was scheduled to undergo final parliamentary approval yesterday, would have deferred sentencing or punishment for sexual assault of minors in cases where there was no physical force and where the victim and perpetrator were married.

The government said that it would now submit the proposal for review to a parliamentary committee.

The age of consent in Turkey is 18, although courts permit civil marriages for people as young as 16. Many younger people are married in Islamic ceremonies.

The government said there was a need to redress “unfair treatment” of families, where men were jailed for marrying girls under the age of 18 even if both parties and their parents consented.

The proposal by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which would have applied to cases pursued between 2005 and November 16 of this year, required men who married minors in religious ceremonies to formalise their union with civil marriages.

Opponents argued that the bill amounted to a pardon for statutory rape and would disrupt efforts to prevent child marriages and sexual assault on children.

It would, they added, legitimise the practice of men taking brides as young as 13.

[Reprinted from the Morning Star.]

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