Have you ever had a scary moment in your life when you felt so violated by someone? Groped by someone and felt so disrespected? I know that in some cases it has been worse and there could be no words to explain that particular moment. Why are we talking about this you wonder? Well, Turkey is planning to table a bill before parliament at the end of January 2020 allowing rapists to marry their victims to escape punishment for raping young girls. Yes, you read that right. And just before you jump off your seat, let me break it down for you.
The “marry-your-rapist” bill introduced by the ironical Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had been defeated after its introduction in 2016 but the law is going to be re-introduced again this month and women rights activists are not having it, warning that this “would legitimize child marriage and statutory rape, and pave the way for child sexual exploitation”. According to The Sun, The People’s Democrat Party is warning the legislation would make legal child marriage and statutory rape, and pave the way for child sexual exploitation. Statutory rape-sexual intercourse with a minor.
The legal age of consent in the country is 18 years, however, according to a government report on child marriage 2018, it has been estimated that a total of 482,908 girls were married in the last decade. That is about 48,290 girls every year. Such a huge number. And because child marriage is linked with teenage pregnancies, teenage mortality during child birth, school drop-out, the list goes on.
The government points that this bill is not to excuse rape but to rehabilitate girls who have sex under the age of 18 from feeling ostracised by their community. However, critics say this will encourage men to rape especially when they have someone of a liking, as the bill would pardon men only if they had sex without “force or threat” and if they married the victim.
While Equality campaigners are sticking on the agenda to stand against this discriminatory bill and pushing back against regressive forces that are seeking to remove current legal protections for girls, you can imagine how difficult their work is, when the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said equality between men and women is “against nature”, during a summit held in Istanbul in 2014.
Member of Parliament for the opposition Republican Party Ozgur Ozel, said that “sexual abuse is a crime and there is no consent in it. Seeking the consent of a child is something that universal law does not provide for.”
“If this bill passes it will likely quash the convictions of some 3,000 men accused of assaulting an under-18-year-old,” BBC Turkey analyst Mark Lowen.
Our stand in the matter remains that every decision should be made with the best interest of the child in mind. But in this case, the interest of the perpetrators is being put ahead. So what makes them think that the rape victim would want to marry her abuser? It is not right and the Turkish government should be aware that the world is watching.
Additinal source; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38030182