The Turkish government has put forth a bill that, if passed, would allow men accused of statutory rape to be cleared of their charges if they marry the victim.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party are behind the bill that would pardon 3,000 convicted rapists. Sentences after 2005 will be “deferred” if the offender ended up marrying the victim.
The bill applies in cases with girls younger than 15 years of age. Incidents involving force, threat or any other restriction on consent are not protected. It was approved by parliament Thursday and will be voted on next week.
The proposed law has caused outcry in the community. Opposition members say it will force girls into marriages against their will.
“If a 50- or 60-year-old is told to marry an 11-year-old girl after raping her, and then marries her years later, she will suffer the consequences,” said Omer Suha Aldan, an MP for the main opposition party CHP, according to The Telegraph. “If you give him a pass by marriage, the young girl will live in prison her whole life.”
Violence against women has skyrocketed in recent years. The murder rate of women increased by 1,400 percent between 2003 and 2010. Around 40 percent of women now report sexual or physical abuse, according to BBC.