The Turkish government has withdrawn a bill that would commute sentences for statutory rape if the perpetrator decided to marry the victim.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 involving girls younger than 15 would have been “deferred” if the offender ended up marrying the victim.
Opposition members warned the bill could force girls into marriages against their will, while the government defended it as a way of releasing people who received consent from their wives’ families.
“The bill will certainly not bring amnesty to rapists … this is a step taken to solve a problem in some parts of our country,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said, according to BBC.
The bill was sent back for further work just hours before a parliamentary vote Tuesday. It will now be reviewed by a commission, which will take into account the views of the opposition and civil society.
The withdrawal comes after thousands of people protested the bill on the streets of Istanbul over the weekend.
“We will not allow the AKP to acquit and set free rapists in this country,” a protester identified as Ruya told AFP. “Women will resist and take to the streets until this law and similar other laws are withdrawn.”
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.
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