Aim of controversial abuse motion was to ‘fix problems stemming from realities,’ says Bozdağ
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
AA photoJustice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said the controversial parliamentary motion aiming to change the current child abuse law, introduced by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies, was designed to address problems stemming from “realities” in some parts of Turkey.
Speaking during a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s 62nd annual session being held in Istanbul on Nov. 19, Bozdağ recalled that the official legal age of marriage in Turkey is 18 but there is a “reality” of religious marriages taking place before this age.
“In some places, especially among our Roma citizens, those who are below the [legal age to get married] are getting married. We do not approve this and we are fighting against this. To solve this problem, we have changed our laws, but unfortunately there is still such a reality in Turkey,” he said.
Bozdağ added that the government aimed to find a solution “without harming anyone,” stressing that the motion “definitely does not” intend to introduce an amnesty for rapists.
“[The motion] aims to resolve the problem that occurs out of a reality in some parts of society,” he said, denying that they were aiming to make a reduction of punishments for sexual abuse.
The motion, which is still pending, stipulates that for any crime of sexual abuse committed before Nov. 16, in the event of a subsequent marriage between the victim and the convict, the announcement of the verdict will be deferred and if there has already been a verdict the sentencing will be deferred.
Under the present civil code, marriage under the age of 17 is prohibited. The marriage of children aged 16 is subject to court action, while according to the criminal law a public case is opened automatically for all sexual offenses against children 15 years old and under.
Hospitals and schools are obliged to notify the authorities of early marriages upon learning of such cases, such as if an underage girl goes to hospital to give birth. As public cases are currently opened automatically when the girl is 15, the male responsible is tried for sexual abuse regardless of their age.