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Turkish government drops controversial bill on underage marriage

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The Turkish government has abandoned its plans to push ahead with a controversial bill on the sexual abuse of minors after opposition and rights groups said it could allow men accused of sexually abusing girls avoid punishment.

The move came one day after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced the withdrawal of the bill for further consultation.

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.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ made a short speech on the bill before the Justice Commission in Parliament on Wednesday, admitting that the government failed to explain the context of the bill.

“Actually, the legislation we put forward did not include a single rapist, but it was misunderstood. We also failed to explain it well. We are withdrawing this legislation due to public reaction,” Bozdağ said.

Ultimately, the proposed legislation was unanimously abolished from a larger draft bill.

The bill provoked outrage in the country as it would have resulted in pardons for some men who assaulted underage girls if they marry their victims.

The bill, which is part of a 49-article draft amending the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), was proposed in Parliament at a night session on Nov. 17 and received a majority of votes from the deputies present.

Bozdağ said on Tuesday that the issue is closed while adding that it might be brought back to the agenda in the future if parties reach a consensus.

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