"If a 60-year-old man wants to marry a 10-year-old girl and convinces the family of this, will it be considered as the child's consent?" Cigdem Hacisoftaoglu, a volunteer lawyer working at a women's shelter in Istanbul, asked Deutsche Welle. "And if we talk about consent, when is the proper age for someone to give it? Nine? 11? 16? There is also no limit for the [perpetrator's age]."
Under Islamic law, where “honor” killings of women are still prevalent, marrying off underage victims of rape is seen as an alternative way to “restore a family’s honor.”
The United Nations, many human rights groups, and a large portion of the Turkish public argued that the bill simply provided amnesty for child abuse, and would prompt additional sexual abuse of minors.
"Any forms of sexual violence against children are crimes which should be punished as such," UNICEF, the UN children's agency, along with four other UN agencies, said in a joint statement released Monday.
An online petition circulated by Turkish citizens this week had collected over 800,000 signatures against the legislation.
While the bill is pulled for now, an all-party commission will be reviewing the proposal and it is not completely off of the table yet.