Turkey: Child Bride Paolo Lombardi
18 Nov 2016
Il presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan ha lasciato intendere che la controversa proposta di legge sulle violenze sessuali, che permetteva allo stupratore di una minore di 'rimediare' sposandola, potrebbe tornare in parlamento, dopo essere stata ritirata all'inizio della settimana. "Credo - ha detto a una conferenza sulle donne a Istanbul - che tornerà in parlamento con un grande consenso". Secondo il presidente, la prima bozza della legge era "aveva buone intenzioni", ma era preparata male.
La proposta ritirata, che era stata presentata da deputati del partito islamico al governo, Akp, avrebbe interessato circa 3.000 uomini in carcere o sotto processo per stupro, secondo dati del governo. L'esecutivo ha più volte spiegato che l'obiettivo è mettere ordine nella questione dei matrimoni tra minori e che non si tratta di una sorta di amnistia. Secondo i critici, invece, la legge 'sanerebbe' in modo retroattivo casi di stupro di minori o della moglie.
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BY THE GUARDIAN
Two wrongs don’t make a right, right? Yet in Turkey, a close shave with a controversial motion dubbed by many the “child rape bill” proves that quite the opposite is considered true when talking about the abuse of women.
Under the proposal put forward last week, men convicted of sex with an underage girl before 11 November this year would be pardoned if they married their victim, as long as the act was committed without “force, threat or any other restriction on consent”.
The shocking bill met with support in parliament last Thursday but failed to reach the necessary majority and was later withdrawn for review ahead of a final parliamentary vote. Thankfully, there are now reports that it has been dropped entirely, but it has highlighted once again a worrying side to Turkish culture, where the rights of the family and the importance of men within it are placed before the protection of the basic rights of women and girls.
Seen by those who oppose it as legitimising rape and encouraging child marriage, the bill caused national and international outcry as it suggested that the inconvenience of a prosecution for abusing children could be remedied with marriage, and that the abuse and suffering caused by sexual assault or forced marriage was not of primary concern.
Thousands took to the streets of Istanbul and other cities in protest. Crowds gathered outside parliament in Ankara and one opposition MP protested by presenting to parliament a full-sized groom’s suit and a child-sized bridal gown.
However, the government claimed the bill’s intentions had been distorted by its detractors. MPs said that they did not seek to decriminalise rape, but to free men imprisoned for marrying an underage girl with what appeared to be her or her family’s consent – a figure that stands at 3,000, according to their estimates.
“There are people who marry early,” said Turkish prime minister Binali Yıldırım. “They do not know the law, so they have children. The father goes to jail and the children are left alone with their mother.”
The pro-government media soon began printing stories describing the grief of child brides-turned mothers for their imprisoned husbands, and of 14-year-olds marrying for love. But when a government justifies its moves as protecting the legal rights of men or families involved in an illegal act such as underage marriage ahead of protecting vulnerable young girls, something is seriously broken.
Michelle Obama said in a speech at a Democratic rally last month: “The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls,” and on that measure Turkey is clearly not doing very well. Turkey is ranked 130th out of 145 countries in the2015 Global Gender Gap Index and violence against women continues to soar, with more than 400 killings last year alone. Although accurate figures on child marriage in the country are difficult to find, Unicef estimates the current rate of marriage in girls under 18 as 15%.
Many of these unions are not legal in Turkey because the legal marriageable age is 17 and the legal age of consent is, confusingly, 18. Many child marriages are unregistered religious ceremonies conducted by an imam rather than legal civil ceremonies and they are an increasing problem. Instead of introducing laws to combat the problem, however, Turkey moved towards normalising sexual assault.
Fury at Turkish bill to clear men of child sex assault if they marry victims
In July, the constitutional court also annulled part of the law that classified sexual acts with children under 15 as sexual abuse on the grounds that those between the ages of 12 and 15 can understand the meaning of the sexual act and therefore consent. Insisting that a child can consent to acts just because they can understand suggests a strange grasp of logic that is deeply troubling, yet it is a logic that has become normal in a Turkey ruled by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Both moves expose the extent of Turkey’s retreat into what was already a toxically male-skewed culture. Since the AKP came to power in 2002, it has sought to apply its conservative values by reinforcing the idea of family as the core unit at the heart of Turkish society, despite it coming at the cost of women’s rights.
Family-centered policies are the main focus, and government rhetoric has laid out societal norms that must be adhered to, placing women under tremendous pressure to comply – women have a duty as wives, mothers. It is hard for anyone to forget that when, earlier this year, Erdoğan infamously urged women to have at least three children. “A woman,” he said, “who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete.”
As the AKP moves to consolidate power through the introduction of a presidential system with a vote in spring, it seems likely the coming years will be peppered with more bizarre bills like this one, and it is women and the vulnerable who will bear the brunt of Turkey’s downward economic and authoritarian spiral. If Turkey already seems broken, it’s not looking good for the future.