Even though the #MeToo movement took the world by storm, it seems that millions of women across the world are still unable to stand up for their right to bodily autonomy, and their governments don’t help them one bit.
In a truly archaic move, the Turkish parliament has decided to introduce a bill unpopularly called “marry your-rapist bill”, and it will essentially force sexual assault victims under the age of 18 to marry the person that assaulted them. Critics of the bill say that such legislation would also legitimize child marriage and pave the way for further abuse.
Turkish lawmakers will introduce the bill in the Turkish parliament by the end of this month. Women’s rights activists across the country have spoken up, and the country’s opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party has also joined the fight against this barbaric bill.
Suad Abu-Dayyeh, an activist with Equality Now – an organization that specializes in women’s rights in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Africa, told The Independent that it was “shocking” that politicians would propose such a bill.
She added that similar “marry-your-rapist” bills have been introduced in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, but thanks to years of campaigning by women’s rights activists and lawmakers, many countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia have all removed these laws in recent years. So, rather than introducing legislation that would protect women’s rights, lawmakers in Turkey are bringing in gender discriminatory laws.
This is not the first time Turkey has introduced such an oppressive bill, and a similar bill was introduced by the Turkish parliament by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. He once claimed that equality between men and women is “against nature” at an Istanbul summit that took place back in 2014. The bill, however, was defeated after it sparked immense outrage both in Turkey and the world. Violence against women is very common in Turkey, though, and a shocking 38 percent of Turkish women have suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner, according to data from the United Nations.
The United Nations have warned the country against passing the bill and suggested that “the bill would generate a landscape of impunity for child abuse and leave victims vulnerable to experiencing additional mistreatment and distress from their assailants”. It remains unclear, though, whether the criticism will make an impact on Turkish lawmakers.