Dog rape suspect controversially freed by animal-abasing judge
ISTANBULA suspect of raping a dog was acquitted of all charges Dec. 30 in a trial that drew much attention after its judge abased the animal who was the victim of the violence, calling her “a mongrel,” prompting a social media campaign.
The verdict may trigger more outcry as the defendant, identified only as H.Y., was not present at the hearing, which was largely attended by animal rights groups, nongovernmental organizations, lawyers representing various bars, as well as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers Melda Onur and Mahmut Tanal.
The suspect, who was facing between 10 months and four years in jail for the crime, had denied all accusations of sexual abuse during the eventful first hearing, despite video evidence collected by security cameras.
Stressing that the footage was widely spread on the Internet, activists denounced the verdict as the “reflection into justice of the state’s patriarchal policies legitimizing rape.”
“The fact that the living creature victimized in the case is not a human does not change the fact that it is a crime. [Animal rape] is a reality that has long been silenced in Turkey, but [the verdict] proves the mindset that exposes not the rapist, but the victim, persists,” the statement said.
The ruling will likely put judge Hacı İbrahim Boynukara in the spotlight for his denigrating attitude toward the dog, as the lawyer representing Nilayim’s owner, Yasemin Babayiğit, slammed the verdict saying they would appeal it. “This ruling has no legal foundations,” Babayiğit said.
During the first hearing of the trial last month, Boynukara had called for the complainant by asking, “Who is the owner of this mongrel?” shocking lawyers and animal activists in the courtroom alike, prompting animal activists to launch a hashtag campaign on social media ahead of the trial’s second hearing.
Lawyers from the Istanbul Bar’s Animal Rights Commission responded to the judge, saying, “We call her a dog, you should as well,” while other attendants also showed their disapproval.
Still stunned by the expression used by the judge toward the dog, lawyers and activists following the trial launched a social media campaign before the second hearing on Dec. 30 under the hashtag #itinsahibibenim (#Iamtheownerofthemongrel).
“We are sure that an individual who does that to a defenseless dog would also do it to a child, woman or elderly person,” the statement said.
“#Iamtheownerofthemongrel. And who are you? Its rapist? The person who ignores it? Or the one who calls a dog ‘mongrel’ and its rapist ‘human,’” said one of the Twitter users who gave support to the online campaign.
Last October, a group of lawyers and members of the Animals Right Commission uncovered acts of cruelty in a house in Istanbul where several dogs and cats were found slaughtered.
Despite the general care shown toward stray dogs and cats being a characteristic of local life in many neighborhoods, Turkey has experienced a number of violent crimes against animals over the last year that has started to change this positive perception to the worse.