World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said new amendments it is making to legislation is trying to find a solution to child abuse and protect victims.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Friday the AK Party had been taking the most serious steps to prevent child marriages.
“What we do is to find a solution to an ongoing problem; it is not to protect rape nor protect rapists. We seek the heaviest punishment for rapists,” he said amid an ongoing debate about a new parliamentary bill on sexual abuse.
Bozdag added that if someone married with a child, that was still a crime and those found guilty would be sentenced to 16 years in jail for such an illegal marriage.
The legal age for marriage in Turkey is 17 but under civil code article 124 a judge can -- in extraordinary circumstances -- allow a 16-year-old to marry.
A draft law which would amend parts of Turkey’s criminal code -- particularly as it relates to sexual abuse -- was submitted to parliament on Thursday by Mehmet Mus, vice president of the AK Party’s parliamentary bloc.
The current law says that in sexual abuse cases where the victim is under 12, the minimum sentence will be 10 years. In rape cases with victims under 12, the minimum sentence will be 18 years.
In sexual abuse cases where victims are aged between 12 and 18, the current sentence of eight to 15 years would remain the same. In rape cases with victims aged between 12 and 18, the current minimum sentence of 16 years in jail will also remain.
The proposals to parliament were initially accepted despite objections by two opposition parties – the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The proposal will be discussed again next Tuesday.
However, Bozdag defended the draft bill and criticized the opposition lawmakers.