Turkey’s ruling party has commenced a second attempt at introducing a law that allows men who abused underage girls “go unpunished” if they are willing to marry their victims.

The controversial legislation, titled “marry your rapist”, which is set to be presented at the country’s parliament for debate at the end of the month, is coming four years after a similar bill sparked global outrage.

The proposed law has been generating dusts across the country, with critics arguing such would legalise rape as well as promote child and sexual abuse.

Critics also argued the new bill, if eventually passed, would deepen the already surging cases of underage marriage in the country.

The present legal age of consent in Turkey is 18, but a government report published in 2018 on child marriage estimates that a total of 482,908 underage girls were married over the last ten years.

The Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s opposition party, alongside other civil societies in the country, have intensified calls rejecting the bill ahead of its presentation at the parliament.

Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a campaigner for Equality Now, commended the ongoing oppositions to the proposed law, urging others to join the movement.

“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,” she told The Independent.

“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 United Nations (UN) has also spoken out against the bill, warning that it could lead to the increased confidence of rapists without fear of punishment and consequences to their crimes.

According to an estimate by the UN, 38% of women in Turkey have suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner.



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