UPDATE Turkey withdraws child rape bill

TURKEY Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has withdrawn a bill that pardons men convicted of sex with underage girls if they have married them.

The bill, part of a package of amendments to the legal system, was sent back for further work just hours before a final vote in parliament.

UN agencies had called on the government not to approve the bill, arguing that it would damage the country’s ability to combat sexual abuse and child marriage.

But the government says the main aim is to exonerate men imprisoned for marrying an underage girl apparently with her or her family’s consent.

It had sparked protests across Turkish society and was condemned abroad. Critics claimed it would legitimise statutory rape and encourage the practice of taking child brides. Turkey’s legal age of consent is 18 but the practice of underage weddings in religious ceremonies remains widespread.


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