Women’s rights groups alarmed by resurfacing of proposed child sex law

Women’s rights groups are voicing their concerns against a proposal by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to pardon some people imprisoned for statutory rape in the past decade, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

The proposal, which would indefinitely defer sentencing or punishment for sexual assault of minors - those below the age of 18 - in cases where the act was consensual and where the victim and perpetrator were married, is opening the door for sexual predators and encouraging marriage to minors, DW quoted women’s rights defenders as saying.

First brought to parliament for a vote in November of 2016, the change of law proposal which fell short of passage by legislators, has recently found its way into Parliament again, DW said.

The one-time amnesty would affect around 3,000 families applying to cases between 2005 and Nov. 16, 2016, the government has said.

"The legal amendment not only looks for impunity, but provides encouragement and incentive for child abusers and supporters of marriage of minors,’’  women’s rights NGO Mor Çatı told the German broadcaster.

Lawyer Selin Nakıpoğlu of the TCK 103 Women’s Platform, an umbrella organization for 157 women's and LGBTI organizations, says that it’s not possible to believe that the proposal would be a one-time only deal.

"Based on our past experiences, it’s not possible for us to believe this,’’ Nakıpoğlu said, adding that it is the duty of the state to protect children from those who enable the marriage of minors.

Approximately 15 percent of girls in Turkey marry before the age of 18, according to the international organization Girls Not Brides, a group working to end the country’s child marriage problem.