A new ‘Marry your rapist’ law which allows men who have sex with girls under 18 to avoid punishment if they marry their victims is being considered by Turkish MPs today.
The UN has warned the law legitimises child rape and would lead to a rise in child brides, some opposition MPs in Turkey have also condemned the so-called bill. Critics say the proposed law legitimises statutory rape, child marriage and allows child abuse and sexual exploitation to become rife.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is urging the government to drop the proposal. A similar bill was put before the Turkish parliament in 2016 but it was withdrawn after it sparked worldwide outrage.
The controversial proposal would have applied to statutory rape cases without use of ‘force, threat, or any other restriction on consent’ involving girls aged 15 or younger.
While the legal age of consent is 18 in Turkey, a 2018 government report on child marriage estimates a total of 482,908 girls were married in the last decade. Violence against women and girls is prevalent in Turkey – with 38 per cent of Turkish women having suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner according to the United Nations.