Protesters in Ankara, the sign reads: “The rape cannot be pardoned!”/Image via AP.

Over the weekend, protests in Turkey and statements from civil rights groups led to the squashing of a bill that would have pardoned men convicted of sexual assault of a minor on the condition that they married her.

The Guardian reports that the bill’s “amnesty clause” stated that, in addition to marrying their victim:

The proposed amnesty for some child sex offenders was part of a larger bill approved by lawmakers in ahearing 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”.

This provision was intended to target the common rural practice of adult men marrying girls under the age of 18, violating a child marriage law for which around 3,000 men are currently incarcerated. The Guardian notes that it is uncommon for the Turkish government to concede to popular protest, and noted that one women’s rights group is led by Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar, daughter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Advertisement

The Guardian reports that thousands of people came out to protest the bill, which UNICEF said “would create a perception of impunity in favor of perpetrators of such child rights violations” and “increase the risk for further victimization of the child if she marries the perpetrator of the sexual abuse.”

After criticisms, Erdoğan stated that he agreed with its withdrawal, and wished to see a bill with more popular backing. “I see great benefit in solving this problem in a broad consensus,” he said, “taking into account criticism and recommendation from different sections of society.” Turkish prime minister Binali Yıldırım said that the bill would be rewritten and brought back to parliament to “allow for the broad consensus the president requested, and to give time for the opposition parties to develop their proposals.”