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Turkey Withdraws Controversial Bill on Child Marriages

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has withdrawn a controversial bill at the parliament that would have overturned the convictions of particular individuals convicted of child sex assaults following public outcry.

Yildirim told reporters in a press conference in Istanbul on Tuesday that the incumbent government is withdrawing the bill from the parliament and presenting it to a parliamentary commission in order to allow for opposition parties to bring forward their own proposals and arrive at a broad consensus.

The motion stated that punishment for the sexual abuse of a minor would be deferred in case the act was committed before November 16 and without force, threat, or any other restriction on consent and if the perpetrator has married the victim.

Critics, however, say the proposed bill promotes child rape. Omer Suha Aldan, a lawmaker with the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said the proposal will encourage forced marriages and legalize marriage to rapists.

If a 50 or 60-year-old is told to marry an 11-year-old after raping her, and then marries her years later, she will suffer the consequences, Aldan said. If you give him a pass by marriage, the young girl will live in a prison for her whole life.

Erkan Akcay, the deputy chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has also censured the bill as outrageous and impossible to accept.

On Saturday, around 3,000 protesters, including women and children, marched to Kadikoy Square in Istanbul to express their resent at the draft bill.

The protesters carried banners reading Rape Cannot Be Legitimized in Turkish, and shouted slogans such as We Will Not Shut Up. We Will Not Obey. Withdraw the Bill Immediately.

The proponents of the bill have said it aims to protect young victims of underage marriage and to resolve legal complications related to child marriages.

Women's rights advocate Nuriye Kadan says one third of marriages in Turkey involve underage girls, warning that the actual number could be much higher as many of the child marriages are not officially registered.

Source: Al Alam

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