Lawmakers in Turkey are planning to introduce a controversial bill in the country’s parliament called Marry-Your-Rapist. As the name suggests the law will enable the men accused of sexual abuse to avoid punishment if they marry the survivor. The bill is stated to be introduced to the Parliament at end of this month has already created a lot of outrage among the women’s rights activists. The People’s Democratic Party, the party in opposition, is also against the bill. They believe that the law, if passed, will pave way for legitimising child marriages and statutory rape. It will also let people get away with child abuse and sexual exploitation. The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18 years.

Key takeaways:

  • A controversial ‘Marry-your-rapist’ bill will be introduced by lawmakers in Turkey in the Parliament by the end of this month.
  • The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18 years. Violence against girls and women is common in Turkey.
  • The bill would pave way for child abuse and leave survivors of sexual abuse feel even more vulnerable.

UN agencies have also warned that such a bill would pave way for child abuse and leave survivors of sexual abuse feeling even more vulnerable.

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In 2016, a similar bill was defeated in Turkey after it sparked widespread protests across the country and was even criticised globally. The bill suggested that the legislation would have pardoned men if they had sex without “force or threat”. The bill had been proposed by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party. The United Nations agencies also condemned the bill saying, “If adopted in its current form, the draft Bill would weaken Turkey’s ability to combat sexual abuse and child marriage.”

The law, if passed, will pave way for legitimising child marriages and statutory rape. It will also let people get away with child abuse and sexual exploitation.

“Marry-your-rapist” bills have been seen across the globe and are pushed in the name of protecting family “honour”. In the past, some form of the law which was prevalent in many middle-eastern countries and North African countries has now been repealed. Article 227b of the Tunisian Penal code, also known as the “article of shame” was repealed in August 2017. In 1999, Egypt repealed a similar law and Morocco overhauled its existing law in 2014.

Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a campaigner who works for promoting the rights of women and girls, 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.”

Turkish lawmakers should take heed of these advances in repealing gender discriminatory laws.

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She further added, “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.”

Violence against girls and women is common in Turkey. The Independent reports that 38 percent of Turkish women are known to have suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner according to the United Nations. 

Image Credit: CBC

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