The Turkish government has announced it is reviewing a controversial bill which would pardon men convicted of child sex abuse if they marry their victims.
The bill produced a public backlash with thousands of people taking to the streets at the weekend to protest,and it was condemned internationally.Critics claimed the bill – which was scheduled for a final vote on Tuesday – would legitimise child rape and lead to more child brides.
United Nations agencies including UNICEF issued a joint statement on Monday warning the proposal “would weaken the country’s ability to combat sexual abuse and child marriages”.Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the government will now be submitting the proposal for review to a parliamentary committee.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says the bill will be reviewed“We are taking this bill in the parliament back to the commission in order to allow for the broad consensus the president requested, and to give time for the opposition parties to develop their proposals,” he said.”This commission will evaluate and take into account all sides and surelya solution will be found.”If it had become law, it would have led to the release from prison of men guilty of sexually assaulting a child if the act was committed without”force, threat, or any other restriction on consent”, and if the aggressor then married his victim.
Mr Yildirim insisted the proposals were aimed at improving the situation for 3,800 families who were“forced to grow up without the love” of their jailed fathers.”The children are paying the price of their parents’ mistakes,” he said.However, campaigners have accusedthe government of failing to do enough to stamp out child marriage and of being more interested in encouraging an increase in the birth rate.
HEAR THE VIEWS OF PROTESTERS!
One of the protesters chanted: “We will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately!”
Some waved banners with slogans suchas “Rape cannot be legitimised” and”AKP, take your hands off my body” – referring to the AKP party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which introduced the bill.
“A rape can’t be justified,” protester Fadik Temizyurek told the BBC.She said: “What does it mean to ask a child if they’re OK? Until they’re 18, a child remains a child, that is why this has to be condemned. We are here so that this law can’t pass.
“Kadir Demir, a father, said: “I am here because I listen to my consciousness. Because I have children, because of my children. Because I desire to live in a country where we can still live.”
Another protester, Cigdem Evcil, said: “I am a mother. How am I supposed to react to this? I can`t believe it, it’s not normal, it doesn’t make sense.”This morning when I woke up I heard the news on TV and I’ve called my daughter maybe 50 times since.”If I let this happen to my daughter, if themothers in this country let this happen, it means we are not mothers.”