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Bill Granting Amnesty to Rapists Sparks Outrage in Turkey

Bill Granting Amnesty to Rapists Sparks Outrage in Turkey

Thursday, 26 March, 2020 - 12:45
Turkish President discusses the coronavirus crisis with members of his government during a video conference on Monday, March 23, 2020 (AP)
Ankara - Saeed Abdul Razzak

The Turkish government has been attempting to introduce a law to grant rapists amnesty sparking outrage in the country


The bill, proposed after the coronavirus outbreak, gives amnesty for all prisoners, except those involved in intentional homicide and terrorism.


Associations and organizations active in the defense of women's rights rejected the bill, since it would also apply to those involved in rape and harassment crimes.


This was sparked by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suggesting a law to grant rapists amnesty as long as they marry their victim.


The proposals were discussed among the AKP, the Nationalist Movement Party, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the nationalist Good Party to release thousands of prisoners due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.


There are 300,000 prisoners in 375 reform centers across Turkey, which is much more than their capacity especially that the number of prisoners has doubled after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.


The Nationalist Movement Party had submitted a proposal to approve this amendment in 2018 and pressed the ruling party to amend the Penal Code, thereby reducing the imprisonment period for those convicted of carrying out different offences.


If approved, the draft law is estimated to help up to 100,000 prisoners out, including 60,000 who have been convicted of drug-related crimes.


It also includes articles to reduce prison sentences or allow convicts to remain under house arrest for all types of crimes covered therein.


The house arrest sentence would be given to prisoners whose medical reports prove that the conditions in prisons threaten their lives. House arrest could also be applied to women convicts, who have recently given birth and were sentenced to three years in prison or less.


Opposition parties and women’s rights groups have been quick to point out that the bill legitimizes child marriage and statutory rape in a country where the legal age of consent is 18.


They said the new bill was likely to increase rates of violence against women and children.


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