Turkey’s ruling government has brought a motion to Parliament that would allow rapists to go free if they marry their victims, as a way to alleviate the legal complications associated with child marriage.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) supported a motion, which was brought to the floor of the General Assembly on Thursday night, that would allow the immediate release of more than 4,000 convicted rapists from Turkish prisons if they marry their victim, reports Turkish Minute.
The AKP has defended the motion by saying it is needed to protect couples who had consensual sex and were too young to legally marry.
If that is all it is used for, then this is a good motion and should be supported as long as the girl is in her upper teens. Younger than that and there is no such thing as consensual sex.
I greatly fear that it will be misused by older men or older teens against little girls who are neither wanting to marry nor were willing participants. The worst thing that could happen is that the abuse that started with the rape would be continued for the lifetime of the girl. A rapist whether violent or persuasive is hardly capable of respecting a girl he has raped.
Is it possible that the Justice Minister is under pressure to reduce prison populations because Erdogan has arrested half of Turkey in his pogrom?
“When a child is then born from this non-official union, the doctor warns the prosecutor and the man is sent to prison, putting the child and mother into financial difficulties,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ told AFP.
The proposal states that, in the case of child rape, if the act was committed without “force, threat, or any other restriction on consent,” and if the victim agrees to marry the aggressor, the sentence shall be postponed.
“What we are doing is looking to find a solution to an ongoing problem; it is not to protect rape nor protect rapists. We seek the heaviest punishment for rapists,” Bozdağ told Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Members of the parliamentary opposition have criticized the motion, saying it will “encourage forced marriages” and “legalize marriage to rapists.”
"If a 50 or 60-year-old is told to marry an 11-year-old after raping her, and then marries her years later, she will suffer the consequences," said member of the opposition party CHP, Omer Suha Aldan, to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
"If you give him a pass by marriage, the young girl will live in a prison for her whole life," Aldan added.
The motion didn’t garner the majority needed to convert it to a bill, because of votes against it from both the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), so a second round of voting will take place on November 22.
If it was to pass, the motion will then progress to President Erdogan who could bring it into force if he approves.