How Would You Like to Marry Your Rapist?
It is not a fictional idea, depicting the laws of an alien planet. Believe it or not, a rapist marrying his victim after the rape was seen as an appropriate option in many countries, and the idea was supported by the rape laws. From Brazil to Morocco, rapists were able to escape prison simply by saying, “I’ll marry her”. Despite the abolition of these laws in many countries, some are still in effect.
Currently, Turkey’s parliament (TBMM) is reviewing a report, completed by the Commission on Divorce, to reinstate this rape law which was appealed in 2005 while the country was in talks with the EU for a possible entry. It was one of the requirements by the EU lawmakers for Turkey to modernize its penal code on violence against women, marriage and rape. The country’s parliament at the time complied with many of these requests, in hopes for an EU membership. For example, Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence in 2012.
Unfortunately, after Erdogan’s party AKP, the Justice and Development Party, won the last elections in Turkey, in November 2015, AKP took a detour from modernization of these archaic laws. Drunk with undisputed power since 2002, AKP began to show its true colors. Established by staunch conservatives and religious politicians, AKP first tried to portray itself as a democracy and women’s rights supporting coalition of right-wing moderate Islamists, conservatives, and pro-business groups.
Women’s rights organizations in Turkey issued written statements, strongly condemning the proposed changes in the law. Mor Cati (Purple Roof) delivered an “Opprobrium Certificate” to Sait Yuce, an AKP member of TBMM, who is also the lead counsel in the Commission on Divorce, stating that the recommended changes in the law would lead to more rapes, more child marriages, and they would legitimize violence against women, in many ways by forcing women to remain in dangerous marriages.
The Istanbul branch of the Progressive Lawyers association published a press release, declaring that the Commission on Divorce did not include any of the prominent women’s rights organizations in Turkey, and their recommendations were not taken into consideration during the preparation of the report that was presented to TBMM in May 16, 2016.
“When we look at this report, we see that the rights which were won by women’s efforts throughout the years, are being taken away from them, one by one. All the recommendations were created by the direction of this women hating regime which emphasizes in every opportunity that men and women are not equal. Recommendations such as allowing rapists to marry their under-age victims. If the rapist proves that he has been a ‘good husband’ for 5 years, he could avoid prison sentence.”
We Are Equal, an equality monitor women’s rights group, indicated that the divorce rate in Turkey is 1.7 comparing to the marriage rate of 7.7, therefore there was not a need to create a commission on divorce, and the sole purpose of this commission is to implement AKP’s plans to remove rights of women by making them more dependent on men and their husbands.
The commission also recommends shorter time limits for alimony, surreptitious divorce proceedings –under the guise of privacy-, and religious based family counseling. The report is expected to be discussed at the General Assembly in the coming legislative period in October 2016, and turned into laws.