Women protesting in Ankara last weekend. One placard reads: ‘Rape cannot be pardoned.’ Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty
Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian
Turkey’s government has withdrawn a controversial bill that would have granted amnesty to some men convicted of child sex assault if they married their victims.
Erdogan's daughter Dep Chief Woman's Rights Group
The announcement on the bill, a rare concession to popular opposition in the country, came after street protests at the weekend and criticism from civil society groups, including a women’s rights organisation whose deputy chief is President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar.
The proposed amnesty for some child sex offenders was part of a larger bill approved by lawmakers in a hearing to reform the criminal code. It would have suspended the sentences of men convicted of sexual assault of a minor if they married their victims and could prove the act was carried out without force or “restriction on consent”.
The Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, had said the bill would be withdrawn in its current form and revised, but the justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, later said the government would not seek to table a new proposal on the matter.
“If the political parties achieve a broad consensus about this issue in the future, then it can come to our agenda again, but the issue is now closed,” he said, speaking at the parliament in Ankara.
Rights groups had condemned the bill, and weekend protests drew thousands of people. The UN had also criticised it, saying it would would weaken Turkey’s ability to combat sexual abuse and child marriage.
“It would create a perception of impunity in favour of perpetrators of such child rights violations,” Unicef said. “In addition, it would increase the risk for further victimisation of the child if she marries the perpetrator of the sexual abuse.”
In his first public comments on the amendment, Erdoğan earlier signalled that it should be withdrawn and that lawmakers ought to seek a bill that had “broad” backing from society.
“I see great benefit in solving this problem in a broad consensus, taking into account criticism and recommendation from different sections of society,” Erdogan told the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Did Erdogan fall on his head? Does his daughter have that much influence over him that he behaves out of character? Or has the fact that he has arrested everyone who might have ever thought a negative thought about him leave him with the knowledge that protesters might genuinely be concerned about what they are protesting rather than being pawns of his enemies? Whatever the story is, it looks good on him and might even give some hope to Americans and their concern over Ivanka Trump's influence over her father.
Sümeyye Erdoğan - London School of Economics and Political Science (Hmmm, wonder what her ambitions are?)
The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) said the particularly controversial element of bill was aimed at resolving the custom of child marriage common in rural areas of the country, and would not pardon rapists.
Researchers from Gaziantep University in 2013 had estimated that one in three marriages in Turkey involved a person under 18, and that the vast majority were illiterate.
The bill would target about 3,000 men who are jailed for breaking the law on child marriage after conducting a religious ceremony with the family and girl’s “consent”. Critics have pointed out that underage girls cannot give meaningful consent.
At least not a consent free of considerable pressure.
Well done, Erdogan! Never thought those words would ever come out of my fingers.