Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in the southern Turkish city of Antalya in protest at a proposed bill that would drop convictions against those offenders who committed child abuse before November 11 and married the victim.
“This bill is trying to protect the child abusers in the cover of early marriage,” said Nilufer Deveci, the chairperson of the Women’s Branch of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the organizer of the Sunday protest.
She warned that the law would “vindicate the pedophiles who are raping children younger than 15-years-old.”
Many of the participants in the protest were reportedly dressed in CHP red scarfs and carrying banners with slogans urging the government to “reverse the law.”
Deveci also condemned the proposed bill, saying the law would be a “historical shame.”
The protest was largely peaceful, except for a brief scuffle between a senior police officer and a CHP deputy, Niyazi Nefi Kara.
The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan argues that the measure is aimed at resolving legal complications related to child marriages.
Turkish lawmakers approved the bill in its initial reading on Thursday and will vote on the proposal in a second debate on Tuesday.