Turkey, Politics

'Broad consensus' needed on sexual abuse law: Erdogan

President says solution needs to consider ‘criticism and recommendation from different sections of society’

'Broad consensus' needed on sexual abuse law: Erdogan


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that Turkey’s sexual abuse amendment should be resolved with a broad consensus.

"I see great benefit in solving this problem in a broad consensus, taking into account criticism and recommendation from different sections of society," he said.

"It is obvious that the debate that started during the negotiations of the draft law necessitates reconsideration of the issue, which leads to very different reactions, criticisms and proposals in the public opinion," he added.

The plan, which will be debated Tuesday, has been criticized by opposition lawmakers, women’s rights groups and international bodies, including the UN, for reducing protection for victims of sexual abuse.

The government has said the bill would apply to 3,000 men imprisoned for breaking the law on child marriage.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday that the proposals were not an amnesty for abusers and challenged opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to introduce their own proposed changes.

“The issue will be in the parliament tomorrow,” he said. “I want to say that if the CHP and the MHP have another proposal and bring it forward we are ready to evaluate it.”

The draft was submitted to parliament on Thursday by Mehmet Mus, vice chairman of the governing Justice and Development (AK) party’s parliamentary group.

The legal age for marriage in Turkey is 17 but a judge can allow a 16-year-old to marry.

In cases of sexual abuse where the victim is younger than 12 years of age, the minimum prison sentence is 10 years and for victims aged 12 - 18, the sentence is eight to 15 years. The minimum jail term for raping one under 12 is 18 years and for raping one aged 12 to 18 it is 16 years.

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