Proposed bill on one-time-relief for underage marriage does not include rapists
by Merve Aydoğan
ANKARANov 22, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Merve Aydoğan
Nov 22, 2016 12:00 am
After a legislative proposal put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) last week to grant clemency to some men imprisoned for marrying underage girls through religious ceremony and with their families consent, caused a heated debate in Turkey. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş on Monday affirmed that the proposal does not include the pardoning of rapists while urging opposition parties to come up with better proposals than that of the AK Party.
The deputy prime minister was talking to members of the media following a Cabinet meeting at Çankaya Palace on Monday. Commenting on the widely-debated proposal, he said, "With our prime minister at the forefront, we (the government) are reviewing and assessing all the opinions as well as criticisms made by different NGOs, deputies and leading figures of various groups regarding the proposal. This legislation was brought forward due to a necessity, something that (underage marriages with mutual consent) has taken place in Turkey until now. But, it will definitely not deal with any means of rape crimes."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also commented on the proposal. "The government should solve this problem by reaching a wide consensus and take the criticisms regarding the proposal seriously," he said.
The proposal aimed to defer sentencing or punishment for men who married girls under the age of 18 in a religious ceremony and with the consent of the girl and her family while meaning to protect those who were too young to marry legally, it will be brought up again for consideration at the Parliament on Tuesday.
However, following objections from the two opposition parties-the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the deputy prime minister has urged the CHP and MHP to bring forward an alternative proposal and begin "substantial" discussions regarding those proposals.
In regards to the criticisms by the opposition parties, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ had recently said, "Those are not rapists, they are not people who committed sexual assault by force. Those are acts done with the consent of their families and the young ones."