Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

Turkey’s Women’s Platform Against Sexual Abuse of Children, a non-governmental umbrella organization, said that the government should step down on attempts to sanction child abusers, referring to a recent bill proposal.

An amendment proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would allegedly pardon 264 sexual predators on the grounds that they were falsely accused and their families were victimized.

Platform member and lawyer Hülya Gülbahar said that the proposed bill would end up yielding amnesty to more than the 264 pre-determined cases.

“This is about justifying child marriages,” Gülbahar said. “This is about creating a parallel law.”

The lawyer added that the proposed legal amendment could result in young girls being taken out of school, forced into underage marriages and forced to bear children.

Urging main opposition politicians to resist the proposed amendment, the lawyer added that women’s organizations will be following developments around it.

‘A new front of attack against women’s rights’

The lawyer said that AKP Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş had opened up a new front of attack against women’s rights by proposing to recuse Turkey’s signature from the Istanbul Convention, a 2014 international treaty protecting the rights of women, children and queers.

Officially dubbed “The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence,” the convention is often accused by conservative groups of encouraging homosexuality and attacking the institution of family.

“High-level AKP official Kurtulmuş opened up a new front of attack and suggesting recusing from one of Turkey and the world’s most important mechanisms to protect women and young girls,” Gülbahar said.

The lawyer added that the Women’s Platform Against Sexual Abuse of Children urges the government to step down from both the legal amendment to pardon sexual predators and the Istanbul Convention recusal.

‘Public support for underage marriages is 1.1 percent’

Platform member Zelal Aydın noted that public support for the amnesty bill wasn’t as high as the public narrative made it seem.

A 2014 survey conducted by Hacettepe University revealed that only 1.1 percent of participants would say they would allow their daughter to get married if she was under 18.

“Some 7.1 percent said that they weren’t sure and 91.8 percent said ‘no,'” Aydın said.

However, the same survey also revealed that only two percent of women between the ages 20 and 24 had been forced to marry before the age of 15, but that 14.7 had been married before 18, with 46 percent being forced by family.