Joint UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UNDP Statement on Turkey's Draft Bill on Sexual Abuse against Children

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Ankara, 21 November 2016 - UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UNDP in Turkey are deeply concerned by the draft Bill submitted to the Parliament during the legislative debates on November 17 which may lead to some type of amnesty for child abuse perpetrators on the condition that the perpetrator marries the victim.

If adopted in its current form, the draft Bill would weaken Turkey’s ability to combat sexual abuse and child marriage. It would create a perception of impunity in favour of perpetrators of such child rights violations. In addition, it would increase the risk for further victimization of the child by marrying the perpetrator of the sexual abuse.

Turkey is a State party to both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It also hosted and was the first signatory State of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. 

While acknowledging Turkey’s commitment to child rights and the multiple efforts carried out in the past decades to realize them, it is essential that the legal framework continues to be strengthened and stays aligned with international standards to guarantee that children are protected against all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation, including child marriage.

Any forms of sexual violence against children are crimes which should be punished as such. In all cases, the best interest of the child should prevail.

We call on all Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly to do their utmost in ensuring that all girls and boys in Turkey are better protected from all forms of sexual abuse, exploitation, including child marriage, and other forms of harmful practices.

We remain committed to continue working with the Turkish Government and Institutions on protecting and realizing children’s and women’s rights, and in particular, their right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse.

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