Turkish legislature to introduce a “marry your rapist” bill, legalizing statutory rape

The age of consent for sexual congress in Turkey is 18, so if a man has sex with a woman under that age, he’s guilty of statutory rape. But that mey be about to change.

According to the Independent and other sites (mostly tabloids, as this stuff gets little attention in the mainstream Western press), a new bill will be introduced into the Turkish parliament that will exculpate a statutory rapist if he marries the victim. Read about it by clicking on the screenshot below. 

Details about the bill are sketchy, but as far as I can determine it would not exculpate offenders accused of violent and nonconsensual rape, though, given the honor culture of many Muslims, it might even apply in such cases if the victim’s family pressures her to marry the rapist. Here’s what the Independent says:

A law which would allow men accused of having sex with girls who are under 18 to avoid punishment if they marry their victims is set to be introduced to parliament in Turkey.

The controversial so-called “marry-your-rapist” bill, which lawmakers are planning to introduce to Turkish parliament at the end of January, has sparked fury among women’s rights campaigners in the country.

Critics argue the legislation, which the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is urging the government to axe, not only legitimises child marriage and statutory rape but also paves the way for child abuse and sexual exploitation.

A similar bill was defeated in Turkey in 2016 after national and global outrage. The legislation would have only pardoned men if they had sex without “force or threat”.

. . . and from The Daily Fail:

Ahead of international women’s day in 2018, Turkey’s president blamed the media for a rise in cases of domestic violence against women and child abuse, telling journalists to not report such incidents.

At Turkey’s Women and Democracy Association in Istanbul in 2016, Erdogan urged women to have at least three children, saying a woman who rejects motherhood is ‘deficient’ and ‘incomplete’.

In 2014 Erdogan said biological differences meant women and men could not serve the same functions, adding that manual work was unsuitable for the ‘delicate nature’ of women.

The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18, but a government report published in 2018 on child marriage estimates a total of 482,908 underage girls were married over the last ten years.

What is also unclear is if there’s a lower age limit for this bill. It clearly allows marriage between men and women under 18, but what about 15? 12? The potential for abuse is high given the widespread practice of child marriage in Turkey. Not only is there the potential for the production of unwilling child brides via “honor culture,”, but such brides could be produced if the family got an underaged woman to accuse a man of rape just so they could get married.

I see no reason why the present system, with prosecution for statutory rape and keeping the age of consent at 18, to be eliminated.  Eighteen is a reasonable cutoff for allowing consensual sex, and no marriage is required when that occurs. All this bill does is give men a way to have sex with underaged women and win a get-out-of-jail free card. Further, I can’t see any reason for passing such a law save a religious one: in many places it is the custom of Muslims to take child brides, which is odious because many of these marriages are against the child’s will and there’s no justification for assuming that women below 18 have the capacity to consent to such marriages.

President Erdoğan and his “Justice and Development Party” (the Turkish equivalent of India’s Hindu-centric and right wing BJP) have been moving the country toward a theocracy for a decade. They’ve restricted freedom of the press, arrested thousands of political opponents, opposed increased freedom for gay people, and banned the teach of evolution below the university level. As one who has visited and loved both Turkey and India, I’m immensely saddened by their seeming returns to theocracy. Permitting child brides is one more odious step for Turkey. Atatürk would whirl in his grave if he knew what was happening to his country.

21 Comments

  1. Ken Phelps
    Posted January 23, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Any chance of getting them out of NATO?

    • JezGrove
      Posted January 23, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Not while the West needs to use the Incirlik air base, I suspect.

  2. Mike Anderson
    Posted January 23, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Rape tourism might give the Turkish economy a boost.

  3. Bruce Lilly
    Posted January 23, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    In countries where there is strong Islamic influence in politics, it is unsurprising that there are rather low age limits on marriage and intercourse, or that there are hundreds of thousands of child marriages over the span of a decade. After all, it is well known that Mohammad married Aisha when she was six and had intercourse with her when she was nine. Higher ages than those would imply that there was something wrong with Mohammad’s marriage to Aisha, and one can get into serious legal trouble by even suggesting such a thing, even in secular courts in mostly secular countries such as Austria.

    More interesting questions would be why are there 12 states in the US that have no statutory minimum age for marriage (including exceptions provided for in the law), or why there were 200,000 minor marriages over the last 15 years. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_age_in_the_United_States

    • ploubere
      Posted January 23, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Good points. In Tennessee a judge can grant a marriage license to an underage participant. There have been attempts to eliminate that but it is, of course, opposed by the republicans and religious right, who are no different than the Justice and Development Party except for brand name.

      If there is any hope it is that apparently Erdogan is unpopular at this point, but whether fair elections will be allowed is uncertain.

  4. Posted January 23, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “Eighteen is a reasonable cutoff for allowing consensual sex, …”

    Though only in the Islamic world or a US founded by Puritans that freaks out over a “wardrobe malfunction”. In Europe 14 to 16 is typical.

    (One can argue that there should be rules about age difference at the younger end.)

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 23, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      After the Thang is re-elected, given his track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if the US didn’t institute such laws on a federal level.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted January 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Evangelicals would suddenly find support for it in the bible.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted January 23, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          They wouldn’t have to do much looking not just for divine permission but for divine encouragement. Kavanaugh and Thomas would lead the charge.

    • Adam M.
      Posted January 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I think the 14-16 of Europe is completely reasonable. Humans are sexually mature by that age and having sex is common. I don’t think anyone who claims that having sex with somebody under 18 is rape, on the theory that “they aren’t mature enough to consent to sex” below that age, really believes it. Otherwise, they’d be calling to punish 16-year-olds who have sex with each other. After all, they aren’t mature enough to have consented…

      It seems to me that significant age differences – especially where the man is older – are what people are really concerned about.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted January 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        It seems to me that significant age differences – especially where the man is older – are what people are really concerned about.

        Agree 100%. Well I agree age difference is what people should be concerned about, it isn’t expressed in our (USA) laws.

      • Posted January 24, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Significant age differences are irrelevant in terms of age at which humans are interested in having sex. Males and females mature at different ages. I’ve known some of each who are mature in their early teens and some of each who are still immature in their mid-thirties or older.

        I’m not sure what would be required to get this issue resolved at a federal level since it currently is determined state by state.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 24, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      (One can argue that there should be rules about age difference at the younger end.)

      Some countries do exactly that. I think the Netherlands has different ages of consent depending on the age of the senior participant, and I think I heard something similar about France too.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 24, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        In South Africa the age of consent is 16, if the older partner has no ‘say’ over the younger one, is not in a position of authority in other words, no teacher, parent, step-parent, guardian, policeman, caretaker, etc. etc. In those cases the age of consent is 18.
        For younger children, 12 to 16, it is statutory rape if the age difference is more than 2 years.
        That appears to make some sense, IMMO.
        I think in many Islamic countries the fact of being married weighs more than age.
        In some countries there is also a difference of age of consent when homosexual sex is concerned (not to mention those countries, most of them Islamic, but not all of them, where homosexual sex is illegal in all cases.)
        I was also shocked by learning that the age of consent in the state of Delaware 2 Centuries ago was 7 (seven)!
        At present the countries with the lowest Ages of Consent in the world are: 11 in Nigeria, 12 in the Philippines and Angola, and 13 in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Niger, and Japan.
        Note that many, such as Argentina, Japan or Nigeria have this dependency (position of authority) clause, increasing the Age of Consent (to 18 in Argentina, Japan or Nigeria).

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Every state in the US, I believe, exempts sex between married partners from the definition of statutory rape. And every US state save one allows persons to get married at an age below the otherwise-applicable age of sexual consent, so long as the minor has parental consent or authorization from a judge. (The lone exception, New Jersey, allowed this until 2018.) I believe one of the leading reasons that courts grant authorization for marriages involving a minor is the pregnancy of the female partner.

    Getting married to a minor does not provide an ex post facto defense to a statutory rape occurring before the marriage, although I think it’s rare for such cases to be prosecuted against the adult spouse in the US.

  6. flogus
    Posted January 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    This is practically straight out of the Bible.

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29: “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

    • Mike Anderson
      Posted January 23, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Also from Deuteronomy 22: if you marry a woman and she turns out to be a non-virgin, you can execute her.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 24, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Death by stoning as still practiced in some Islamic countries? (I know it was done in the IS Caliphate).
        Luckily the Christians added the fable of “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” in the Fourth Century.
        Thank G*d for small mercies.

  7. Susan Davies
    Posted January 23, 2020 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh, just typical. The man commits a crime and the woman gets the punishment. Has been happening in all societies for millennia.


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