Turkey’s ruling AKP withdraws controversial sexual abuse motion: PM Yıldırım
AA photoPrime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced on Nov. 22 that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party will withdraw a controversial motion on the sexual abuse of minors, after the proposal faced a nation-wide backlash arguing that it would pave the way for abusers escaping without punishment.
“These issues will be discussed at a [parliamentary] commission. If a proposal comes from them [the opposition], it will be developed. If not, we will fix the issue by taking on board the suggestions of NGOs, citizens, experts and academics. Politics is the place where problems get fixed,” Yıldırım said Nov. 22.
He added that the government’s decision to take the motion back to the commission was also partially influenced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call to reach a “consensus” on the issue.
Speaking the previous day about the motion for the first time, Erdoğan suggested that the problem should be “solved with a wide consensus,” urging the government to heed criticisms and suggestions from the entire spectrum of society.
“I see a great benefit for the government in solving this issue through a broad consensus by paying attention to criticism and suggestions from different segments of the public,” he told state-run Anadolu Agency.
The bill provoked fury in Turkey as it would have resulted in pardons for some men who assaulted underage girls if they marry their victims.
The motion stipulated a postponement of the announcement of verdicts for cases of sexual assault committed before Nov. 16 in the event that the victim and the perpetrator had married each other, while also suspending sentences in cases in which the verdict had already been announced.
The bill, which is part of a 49-article draft amending the code of criminal procedure, was issued in parliament in a night session on Nov. 17 and received a majority of votes from the lawmakers present at the session.
Regarding the decision to withdraw the motion, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the issue was closed while adding that it might be brought back to the agenda in the future if parties reach a consensus.
Early on Nov. 22, Bozdağ said the clause introducing a regulation for those who cannot get married due to the age factor would be taken out, but the other parts would still be passed.
“Families who became victims because they cannot get married due to the age factor should aim to increase societal and political support by expressing their grievances better,” Bozdağ said.
The government’s partial backpedaling came after a series of meetings with women’s rights groups and opposition party members.
After the initial proposal of the critical motion, whose final shape was expected to take place on Nov. 22, Justice Minister Bozdağ met on Nov. 20 with the heads of a group of women’s organization heads, including Sümeyye Erdoğan – the daughter of President Erdoğan and deputy head of the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM). On Nov. 21, Prime Minister Yıldırım also hosted the AKP’s women deputies, who also expressed their objections to the proposal.
While that meeting concluded with Yıldırım’s call for his party members to find “common ground” with opposition on the issue, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told reporters on Nov. 21 that there was only one proposal at parliament and if the opposition wants to make a revision, it should approach the AKP with its ideas.
Shortly after Kurtulmuş’s remarks, AKP deputy parliamentary group chair Mustafa Elitaş called on the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to present their own opinions.
After the results of talks with opposition were delivered to Yıldırım, President Erdoğan also spoke on the issue for the first time, calling on all parties to secure a consensus.