Four medical exams on a minor to determine rape
A child in the eastern province of Erzurum appealed to the police because she was sexually abused. She was sent for a genital medical examination. A fracture and slit were detected on her hymen.
For whatever reason, the office of the prosecutor sent the child for a medical examination again. This time there was no slit detected. When the court returned the indictment due to the contradiction between the two reports, the office of the prosecutor sent the child for a third medical exam. The third report was disregarded for unknown reasons and it was decided that the child would be examined a fourth time.
In the story by Hümeyra Pardeli from Doğan News Agency, the father of the child was reported as saying: “My daughter is depressed. She does not eat or drink; she is under psychological treatment. I cannot take my child to another medical examination. I have taken her three times; she was examined by grown men. Each time, she came back to me in tears.”
One of the founders of the Association to Fight against Sexual Violence, lawyer Yasemin Öz, said, “The Turkish Penal Code evaluates a full penetration and a non-penetration as two different acts. The crime system is penetration-based. This is a result of the patriarchal viewpoint. There is no coverage for unconsented touches and sexual acts… Nobody can touch anybody else’s body without consent.”
Lawyer Habibe Yılmaz Kayar also said that a medical examination could be demanded to find evidence of the crime, but the fate of the case should not be narrowed to the result of the examination. “The file should be regarded as a whole. Inside the file there are the statements of the victim, there are witnesses, there are other legal evidences. The genital examination is only part of the file,” she said. “What if the victim does not consent to this examination?” she added.
Civil rights activist Fatma Çiğdem Aydın noted that following sexual abuse, sending a young girl for a genital examination repeatedly also means the repetition of the trauma. “Some other people examine your body to check whether something has happened to your body without your consent. This is a big deal. From the point of view of the person who has been subjected to this, there is no difference actually between this procedure to detect the crime and the sexual abuse itself. If this examination is a must, then it has to be done at least in the present of a psychologist,” she said.
Lawyer Hülya Gülbahar evaluated the specific wrongdoings in this case. “According to law, the examination has to take place in an environment where other people cannot see or hear. Even if the demand for a female doctor cannot be met, then during the examination one other female health personnel should be present alongside the doctor. In this case, this examination has been done repeatedly by the wrong people and in the presence of strangers,” she said.
Gülbahar referred to an amendment in the law in 2014, saying that a psychological report is no longer sought and that this negatively affects these cases. “In this specific case, maybe the most important evidence could have been a psychological report. The European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] also lays emphasis on the psychological report,” she said.
It is not an unusual practice to send victims of sexual abuse to medical examinations numerous times. Let alone that, three years ago when three girls were sexually abused but refused a medical examination, the doctor who did not examine them was sued and a prison sentence for the doctor was sought.
What was the doctor’s fault? Not touching and examining the bodies of children who did not consent to a medical examination?
When the issue is sexual abuse, this examination is traumatic for children and women. To be able to understand and know this, one does not necessarily need to be a child or a woman. When you send the victim again and again to medical examinations, then you are making them a victim each time.
Since the mentality of preventing secondary victimizations is not fully adopted, in our country, during the trial period, women and children are taken to one institution after the other, forced to be examined numerous times and face their attacker.
To make a child go through an internal body inspection again and again is, at its simplest, psychological violence.
This has to be known, recognized and prevented.