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Gov’t to review controversial bill on underage marriage

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Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is withdrawing a proposed bill on underage marriage for further consultation, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Tuesday, after opposition and rights groups said it could allow men accused of sexually abusing girls avoid punishment.

The proposal would have allowed sentencing in cases of sexual abuse committed “without force, threat or trick” before Nov. 16, 2016 to be indefinitely postponed if the perpetrator marries the victim.

Yıldırım said the AKP would seek the opinion of the opposition and civil society groups in order to reformulate the proposal, in line with a call from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a wider consensus.

He said the bill, which will be withdrawn from Parliament’s General Assembly and taken back to a commission, aims to remedy the situation of men who are in jail and are married to women under 18 in a religious ceremony and with the consent of their family.

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