Tur­key with­draws con­tro­ver­sial child sex con­vic­tion bill

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

Photo: AFP

Bi­nali Yildirim will take into ac­count all con­sid­er­a­tions.

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