The plan to introduce a new law allowing men to avoid prosecution if they marry girls they’ve raped or had underage sex with has sparked outrage in Turkey.
UK’s Mirror reports that the “marry your rapist” bill is set to be introduced to parliament at the end of the month.
The proposed bill has outraged women’s rights campaigners who say the law will pave the way for child exploitation and legitimise child marriage and statutory rape.
Also condemning the proposed bill, Turkey’s opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the bill to be ditched.
Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a campaigner for Equality Now, told The Independent:
“I applaud the brave work of women’s rights campaigners in Turkey who are taking a stand against this discriminatory bill and pushing back again regressive forces that are seeking to remove current legal protections for girls.
“Similar ‘marry-your-rapist’ legal provisions have been on the statute books of countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
“Thanks to years of campaigning by women’s rights activists and lawmakers, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Palestine have all removed these loopholes in recent years.
“Rather than attempting to introduce legislation that harms women’s rights and protections, Turkish lawmakers should take heed of these advances in repealing gender discriminatory laws.”
The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18 and a government report from 2018 estimates a total of 482,908 underage girls were married over the past 10 years.
The UN say 38% of women in Turkey have suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner.
Violence against Turkish women does not end there with 409 believed to have been murdered by a partner or family member in 2017, according to We Will Stop Femicide.
A similar bill failed in 2016 following international outrage. The law would have pardoned men if they had sex “without force or threat”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said equality between men and women is “against nature” at a summit in Istanbul in 2014.