Turkey withdraws controversial child sex conviction bill
TURKISH Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday the government was withdrawing a controversial bill that could overturn men’s convictions for child-sex assault, after an angry public backlash.
Critics had said the bill – which would allow the release from jail of sex assault convicts if they marry their victims – would legitimise rape. Thousands took to the streets in protest at the weekend.
“We are taking this bill in the parliament back to the commission in order to allow for the broad consensus the president requested, and to give time for the opposition parties to develop their proposals,” Mr Yildirim said in Istanbul.
“This commission will evaluate and take into account all sides and surely a solution will be found,” the prime minister added.
In comments overnight, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called for a compromise to be found on the bill.
The bill’s withdrawal marks a rare concession to popular opposition by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Co-founded by Mr Erdogan, the AKP has dominated Turkish politics since coming to power in 2002.
If the bill had passed, it would have permitted the release from prison of men guilty of assaulting a minor if the act was committed without “force, threat, or any other restriction on consent” and if the aggressor “marries the victim”.
Opposition parties from across the political spectrum had heavily criticised the bill, which was approved in an initial parliamentary reading last week.
It was expected to be put forward again in parliament yesterday but since last week, there have been protests in which thousands of people urged the government to withdraw the bill as well.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had called for the bill to be withdrawn and vowed to go as far as the constitutional court to block it.
But the Turkish government has insisted it was trying to help families in which the men involved were not rapists or sexual aggressors, and who were unaware of the law.
The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18 but child marriage is widespread, especially in the southeast. –
Binali Yildirim will take into account all considerations.