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Turkey’s New ‘Marry Your Rapist’ Bill

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(Illustrative Photo: Clarion Project)
(Illustrative photo: Clarion Project)

Charging full steam ahead toward the regressive treatment of women, Turkey has a law pending punishing women for being raped. The bill being proposed by President Recep Erdogan’s Islamist AK party, would allow the release of thousands of men from prison who have committed statutory rape if they marry their victims.

Statutory rape is that in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent, but where the use of overt force or threat is not present.

The bill is deeply disturbing for several reasons. First, it’s a reversal of the country’s own 2004 law on this issue. Not only did the law in 2004 rule against this situation, it also doubled the sentence for child abusers.

Needless to say, some of the “women” who will now be pressured into marrying their rapists are little more than just young girls.

As Sara Tor in The Independent reports, the bill would release approximately 4,000 men in jail for statutory rape.cases.

Tor shared the impact such a case had on her own family history, writing, “I’ve always been appalled at the fact my Turkish father’s aunt was forced to marry the man who raped her when she was a teenager.”

Culture is no excuse for abuse, and no matter what culture you’re from, every girl has the same dream: her wedding day. That dream is stolen when a girl is forced to marry a monster.

Turkey’s “marry your rapist” law is in-step with regressive honor and shame cultures that blame women for being raped. Moving deeper into this dynamic, laws that push a girl to marry her rapist are focused on two things:

  1. Ensuring women continue to be seen as property. The “marry your rapist” law is rooted in seeing a woman as “used goods” for being violated, reinforcing the idea that a woman’s value is based on her sexuality, and that that is something that needs to be controlled or regulated.
  2. Forcing a girl to marry the man who violated her does not address the violation and trauma or help a girl heal. The law isn’t focused on the girl’s mental or physical health, or her dignity. Instead, the girl’s “honor” is fixated on salvaging the shame of violation (i.e., through marriage).

A law like this essentially gives men a free pass to be abusive, as they know the worst that will happen to them for committing statutory rape is that they will gain full access and control over girl they abused.

Moreover, laws that reinforce honor/shame cultures also serve to indirectly justify horrific “honor” killings performed against women all over the world, including in cases where regressive cultures cross the threshold into free societies through immigration and travel.

Clarion’s Project hallmark film The Honor Diaries delves deep into the honor/shame dynamic through a roundtable of powerful diverse women as they explore this taboo topic. Watch below:

 

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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