Rapists are criminals who shouldn't be given loopholes to escape punishment, yet some in the Middle East think they deserve to get a "second chance" if they marry their victims.
Middle Eastern women and victims of rape have been fighting against this exact appalling idea for so long. In some countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Palestine, activism has led to the repealing of laws allowing rapists to escape legal prosecution if they marry their victims.
As countries continue to fight against such unjust legislation, it seems a few officials in Turkey are trying to push them forth.
This week, it was reported that local lawmakers are working on introducing a similar law to Turkey's parliament by the end of January. If passed, the law would allow men accused of having sex with girls under 18 years of age to avoid punishment if they marry their victims. Dubbed the "marry your rapist" bill, it has already been denounced by local women's rights campaigners.
Critics warn that such a law legitimizes child marriage, statutory rape, and leaves children vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Turkish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is urging the government to axe the legislation, while many are warning against its passing.
A similar law was proposed in the country back in 2016 and sparked similar outrage. At the time, the legislation stated that it would only pardon men "if they had sex without force or threat."
The legal age of consent to marriage is 18 in Turkey, but despite that, a 2018 government report on child marriage estimates a total of 482,908 girls were married in the past decade. If a bill like the one set to be proposed in the country is passed, it will surely lead to a rise in these numbers.
"This is practically legitimizing rape"
"Completely messed up"
One word: "Pathetic"
The idea that marrying a victim absolves the rapist must be destroyed
"Marry your rapist" rules were popular in countries across the region and the world but have been backtracked in so many places. These laws are based on the nonsensical idea that if a rapist or sexual abuser marries their victim, they help in safeguarding her family's "honor."
They were pushed in several Arab countries for decades, resulting in further trauma for victims who deserved much better.
Regardless of whether these laws affect underage victims or adult women, their effect is still just as detrimental. As regional countries move forward in combatting ideologies victimizing women, we must collectively fight the passing of similar laws anywhere around the world.