The prime minister’s remarks came after Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag spoke to the press to justify the draft. Bozdag said on Friday that such early marriages are “common,” and around 3,000 men are currently in prison due to the current law.
“The courts only consider the age and give sentences of 16 years regardless of circumstances. They do not consider whether the underage marriage has happened with or without the consent of the traditions of the families,” he said.
The 49-article draft amending the code of criminal procedure was issued in parliament at night session on Thursday. The bill did not receive a majority vote, meaning the articles have not been validated yet. The assembly will gather to vote on the entire bill again on Nov. 22.
Men guilty of sexually abuse of children may avoid being prosecuted if they get married to the victim, according to a controversial motion proposed by members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that has been harshly criticized by opposition parties.
In cases of sexual abuse of children committed before Nov. 16 “without force or threat,” if the perpetrator marries his victim the sentence will be postponed or the execution of the offence will be adjourned, according to the draft.
Under the present civil code, marriage under the age of 17 is prohibited. The marriage of children aged 16 is subject to court action, while according to the criminal law a public case is opened automatically for all sexual offenses against children 15 years old and under.
The motion has angered all three opposition parties, as well as women’s associations, who say it would encourage forced marriages and legalize marriage to rapists.
Federation of Women’s Associations President Canan Gullu criticized the draft, saying all early marriages should be banned.
Meanwhile, the Women and Democracy Association has issued a statement, saying one of the biggest problems with the bill is its failure to determine elements related to “compulsion, threat and will.”
Turkish PM Yildirim rejected opposition criticism, saying that suffering occurred because “there are families who do not know the law.” Enditem