The Turkish government has rolled back on a bill that would indefinitely suspend the sentences of men who had sex with underage girls, provided that they married them afterwards, the BBC reports.
According to Turkey’s ruling AK party, the legislation was intended to exonerate men who have been imprisoned for marrying underage girls with the consent of the girls and their families. But critics claimed that the bill legitimized statutory rape and child marriage in a country where underage brides are already a widespread problem.
Protests unfolded across Turkey, and the hashtag #TecavüzMeşrulaştırılamaz — or “rape cannot be legitimized” — was trending on Twitter Tuesday, according to Buzzfeed News. “Perverts are going to walk around thinking, ‘Worst-case scenario, we get married,’” one Twitter user wrote. “Have a conscience. How would you sign such a bill?”
Government parties also pushed back against the legislation. “Sexual abuse is a crime and there is no consent in it. This is what the AK Party fails to understand,” Ozgur Ozel, a senior lawmaker with the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said during a press conference. “Seeking the consent of a child is something that universal law does not provide for.”
The bill was slated to go to a vote at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, but at the eleventh hour, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that the legislation would be delayed to “give time for the opposition parties to develop their proposals.”
Read the full story at the BBC.