Moral Failure: Lawmakers in Turkey introduce a controversial “marry your rapist” bill that would allow men accused of raping underage girls to avoid punishment if their victim agrees to marriage.
A law which would allow men accused of having sex with girls who are under 18 to avoid punishment if they marry their victims is set to be introduced to parliament in Turkey.
The controversial so-called “marry-your-rapist” bill, which lawmakers are planning to introduce to Turkish parliament at the end of January, has sparked fury among women’s rights campaigners in the country.
The Guardian reports:
Turkey’s ruling party has begun a second attempt at introducing a law to grant rapists amnesty as long as they marry their victim, four years after a similar bill sparked outrage at home and internationally.
The legislation, which was first debated by parliament on 16 January, would give men suspended sentences for child sex offences if the two parties get married and the age difference between them is less than 10 years.
Critics note the new legislation would lead to a rise in child rape and child marriage, but conservative Muslims in the country have always been sympathetic to child marriage, a problem that continues to plague the country, despite laws being in place to criminalize such practice. Middle East Monitor reports:
Although the legal age of consent in the Republic is 18, an estimated 482,908 child marriages took place over the past ten years, according to a government report published in 2018.
Commenting on the new legislation, Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a campaigner for Equality Now, a non government organisation which aims to promote the rights of women and girls, said:
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.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 United Nations is also opposing the legislation, warning that “the bill would generate a landscape of impunity for child abuse and leave victims vulnerable to experiencing additional mistreatment and distress from their assailants.”
And inside Turkey opposition parties and women groups are strongly opposing the legislation. However, the new legislation is being sponsored by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative Justice and Development party. And Erdoğan is a confirmed misogynist, who believes that equality between men and women is “against nature.” Speaking at a summit in Istanbul in 2014 the Turkish president declared:
You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature.
And in 2016 Erdoğan said:
A woman who says ‘because I am working I will not be a mother’ is actually denying her femininity. A women who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete.
Bottom line: New legislation in Turkey sponsored by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative Justice and Development party would grant child rapists amnesty as long as they marry their victim.