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TURKEY’S opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is calling for the government to drop a sickening child abuse law that would see those who rape minors granted amnesty if they marry their victims.
Standing against the legislation is “a duty of humanity,” the party said ahead of the 3rd HDP National Women’s Conference, which is set to open in the capital Ankara tomorrow.
Around 500 women are set to attend the two-day gathering, with the Turkish parliament due to vote on a highly controversial second judicial package later this month.
Under the proposals, paedophiles will be granted an amnesty for raping children in a move which critics say would legitimise statutory rape and encourage the practice of child marriage.
Similar plans were defeated in 2016 after mass mobilisations of women’s organisations in opposition to the “child rape law.”
The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18. But according to a 2018 Turkish report regarding child marriage in Turkey, a total of 482,908 girls were married in the last 10 years.
Child marriage is a controversial topic in Turkey, but has support from some among the country’s elite. Former president Abdullah Gul famously married a 15-year-old girl when he was 30.
Those opposing the Bill have found themselves targeted by the Turkish state which has escalated its oppression of women, particularly those associated with the HDP.
Raids targeted 90 homes in December with a number of senior HDP elected officials taken into custody, while further operations took place in Istanbul and Ankara in the run-up to today’s conference.
Speaking to the Star before the conference, HDP Cankaya District co-chair Figen Demirci Cira said the HDP and women’s movement would fight to block the “amnesty for child abuse.”
She warned: “This amnesty law could actually lead to the reduction of the legal age for sexual intercourse to under 12 years with the child then forced into marriage.”
People’s Democratic Congress spokeswoman Fatma Kilicaslan told the Star that the government was more interested in protecting the rights of child abusers than the 800 children held in Turkish prisons with their mothers.
And she warned that it would hit refugee women who are often forced to marry for money, with a higher price for younger brides.
But Ms Kilicaslan vowed that hundreds of thousands of women would descend on the Turkish parliament to block the law.
“We know that we have millions of sisters whose hearts are beating with us in Britain. We call them to stand in solidarity with us, to add a voice to our voice. We will succeed!
“The struggle of women is spreading in waves, creating a butterfly effect. We are comrades of the women who fight in Chile, Iran and Rojava. We will never give up. We will never allow the masculine mentality which wants to dominate the world to win.”
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