Turkey to Introduce Controversial 'Marry-Your-Rapist' Bill

Turkish lawmakers are determined to introduce a controversial ‘marry-your-rapist' bill enabling persons accused of sexual abuse to evade punishment if they marry the victim.

The bill, which is scheduled to be introduced to parliament at the end of this month, has already spurred substantial outrage among the public. Critics argue that the proposed law legitimises statutory rape, child marriage and allows child exploitation to become rampant. 

Violence against women and girls is already rife in Turkey, with an increasing number of women suffering physical abuse. A campaign group called We Will Stop Femicide claims some 409 women were murdered by a partner or a family member in the country in 2017, a sharp rise compared to previous years.

Turkish president Erdoğan’s devout beliefs against the equality of men and women have not helped efforts to minimize violence against women in Turkey. Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on Women and Justice back in 2014, Erdoğan said men and women "are created differently", that “one cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a campaigner who promotes the rights of women and girls, expresses contempt at the proposed ‘marry-your-rapist' bill that she thinks is being promoted knowingly to legitimize child exploitation. "I applaud the brave work of women’s rights campaigners in Turkey who are taking a stand against this discriminatory bill and pushing back again regressive forces that are seeking to remove current legal protections for girls. Similar 'marry-your-rapist' legal provisions have been on the statute books of countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Rather than attempting to introduce legislation that harms women's rights and protections, Turkish lawmakers should take heed of these advances in repealing gender discriminatory laws”, she told the Independent.

By Elene Dzebisashvili

23 January 2020 17:11