A disturbing law is set to be introduced into parliament in Turkey that will allow men to avoid punishment for raping underage girls by then marrying their victims.
The new bill is set to be introduced by lawmakers at the end of January.
The People’s Democrat Party in Turkey is warning the legislation would legitimise child marriage and statutory rape, and pave the way for child sexual exploitation.
Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a campaigner for Equality Now, told The Independent: “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.
“Thanks to years of campaigning by women’s rights activists and lawmakers, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Palestine have all removed these loopholes in recent years.
“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.”
A 2018 government report on child marriage estimates a total of 482,908 girls were married in the last decade.
The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18.
Violence against women and girls is prevalent in Turkey – with 38% of Turkish women having suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner, according to the United Nations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said equality between men and women is “against nature” at a summit in Istanbul in 2014.
Following both national and global outrage a similar “marry-your-rapist” bill was defeated in Turkey in 2016.
The legislation would have only pardoned men if they had sex without “force or threat”.