Turkey with­draws con­tro­ver­sial bill on sex­ual as­sault

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

TURKEY’S govern­ment has with­drawn a con­tro­ver­sial bill that could have over­turned men’s con­vic­tions for child sex as­sault, fol­low­ing an an­gry public back­lash.

The con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal sought to ad­dress whether all cases of mar­riage with peo­ple un­der the le­gal age of 18 should clas­sify as “sex­ual as­sault”.

Crit­ics feared the pro­posal could have le­git­imised the prac­tice of men mar­ry­ing girls un­der the age of 18, which is the age of con­sent in Turkey. Thou­sands took to the streets in protest over the week­end.

Yes­ter­day, Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said the govern­ment was with­draw­ing the pro­posed bill.

“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,” Yildirim said at a news con­fer­ence in Is­tan­bul.

“This com­mis­sion will evaluate and take into ac­count all sides and surely a so­lu­tion will be found.”

The pro­posal was sched­uled to un­dergo a fi­nal vote yes­ter­day and would have de­ferred sen­tenc­ing or pun­ish­ment for sex­ual as­sault in cases where there was no phys­i­cal force and where the vic­tim and per­pe­tra­tor were mar­ried.

The govern­ment said it would now submit the pro­posal for re­view to a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.

Courts in Turkey per­mit civil mar­riages for peo­ple as young as 16, and many younger peo­ple are also mar­ried in Is­lamic cer­e­monies.

The govern­ment has ar­gued of the need to re­dress “un­fair treat­ment” of fam­i­lies where fa­thers were placed in jail for mar­ry­ing girls un­der the age of 18 — even if both the bride and groom, as well as their par­ents, con­sented.

Op­po­nents ar­gued that the bill could also amount to a par­don for statu­tory rape, if the per­pe­tra­tor was mar­ried to his vic­tim, and would dis­rupt ef­forts to pre­vent child mar­riages and sex­ual as­sault on peo­ple un­der 18 years old. — Al Jazeera

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