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Anger in Turkey over proposed child sex bill

Reporter: Michal Bardavid 丨 CCTV.com

11-21-2016 20:21 BJT

Turkey is about to debate for a second time a controversial bill that could encourage the rape of underage girls…the proposed bill has been criticized by human rights groups and many citizens are expressing outrage over it.

Members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party have given preliminary approval for a bill that will clear men accused of raping underage girls if they agree to marry the girls.

There is also a second condition: that the sex was consensual—without “force or threat.” Turkish lawmakers will debate the bill a second time before a final vote scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The proposed bill caused uproar in Turkey. Many believe it will lead to girls, especially abuse victims, to be forced into marriage.

Some members of the government insist this bill isn’t about rape, but about child marriages.

Justice Minister Bozdağ says the bill defends couples that had consensual sex, but were forced apart because of the existing law against statutory rape.

"According to our law these men receive a sentence of 16 years in prison. The man is in prison for 16 years, the woman is free. The parents forcing these couples to get married are also punished. They also usually have children of their own. This is our struggle – and clearly there is an issue here," he said.

Critics say the new law will encourage rape. Thousands have marched in protest here, saying there is no way to differentiate whether or not an underage girl gave her consent, or was forced to do so.

The bill’s opponents also say an underage girl is, by law, someone who isn’t old enough to give her consent. If approved, the bill could quash the convictions of thousands of men accused of sexually assaulting underage girls.

Approval will likely create more tension in Turkey where violence against women has been on the rise over the past decade. Around 40 percent of Turkish women now report they’ve been physically or sexually abused.

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