Turkish legislators introduced a bill in the Parliament that would allow rapists to go free if they marry their victims.
Thousands of protesters flooded the streets, against this controversial bill, that received supported from the incumbent, AKP government. A law that would let rapists off if they agree to marry their victim.
Opposition party members have severely criticized the bill. They slammed the government, saying this bill will effectively encourage forced marriages, and embolden pedophiles and 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, the rest of her existence will turn into a life long prison sentence,” said member of the opposition party CHP, Omer Suha Aldan, to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
The government defended its support for the law, explaining that they are trying to vindicate innocent family men, who happened to marry at a young age.
“The issue is simple. There are people who marry early. They do not know the law, so they have children. The father goes to jail and the children is left alone with their mother,’ Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told the media.
Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe with an estimated 15% of girls married before the age of 18.
“There are 181,036 child brides in our country, unfortunately…nearly 20,000 parents filed applications to marry off their under-16 girls in 2012,” said Nuriye Kadan, a Turkish women’s rights advocate.
A protester, who came with his daughter, to Istanbul’s Kadikoy square, told AFP: “I am concerned about my daughter’s future, the AKP is passing any law they want in the parliament.”
Apart from Istanbul, protests are erupting in Ankara, Izmir and Trabzon. The voices on the streets chanted, ‘We will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately.’
The bill needs a second round of voting, to be approved in the parliamentary session, which will be held tomorrow.
Update 11/22/16: Earlier today, the bill was withdrawn, as a result of massive protests.