The Turkish government has withdrawn a proposed law that would have given amnesty to those convicted of having sex with a girl under the age of 18 if they marry the victim. The bill drew national protests and international condemnation. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced the withdrawal just hours before parliament was set to vote the legislation into law.
In the face of widespread condemnation Yildirim said the legislation would now be reconsidered, adding that "these issues will be discussed by a parliamentary commission." Yildirim said if a proposal comes from the opposition, it will be developed. " If not, we will fix the issue by taking the suggestions of NGOs, citizens, experts and academics," he said.
All the Turkish opposition parties opposed the measure, although with the ruling AKP Party having a large majority in parliament, it would have easily passed.
Monday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intervened in the controversy, calling for a broad consensus on the legislation and saying attention should be paid to criticism.
Nationwide protests against the proposed law have been held across the country. The controversy appears to cut across the country's deep political divide, especially drawing women from all segments of society.
“I am mother, how am I to react? This is not normal this is a great shame. I have a child. It is beyond me, if we as mothers in this country let this happen we are not mothers," a woman protesting in Istanbul Saturday explained.
Officials say about 3,800 men would have benefited from the proposed amnesty.
The government insists the legislation was aimed at men who married women just under the legal age of consent, arguing many families had been broken up by the rigid enforcement of existing laws.
But human rights groups claim that the amnesty would legitimize the practice of child brides, which remains a persistent problem in Turkey.
According to a United Nations survey last year, in 15% of the marriages in Turkey, one of the partners was under the legal age of consent and in one percent of the marriages, one partner was under the age of 15.