‘Good conduct’ penalty reduction in domestic violence cases to be lifted: Turkish gov’t
Meltem Özgenç – ANKARA
People found guilty of violent abuse of women and children will no longer have their sentences reduced based on “good conduct” during trial, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has stated.
“We have reached the end of our works on the issue with the Justice Ministry. The reduction in penalties referred to as ‘good conduct’ will no longer be valid in such cases. We will continue work for this to come into effect in 2018,” Kaya told reporters on Jan. 10.
“Good conduct” sentence reductions - which can be applied if the defendant comes to court wearing a suit and tie, for example – has long been criticized in Turkey amid a number of notorious cases.
Kaya also announced a series of other measures to protect victims of domestic and sexual abuse, including a planned increase in the number of electronic bracelets to be given to domestic violence abusers.
“There is a technical system monitoring those engaged in violence. The number of this system was 30 but we are increasing it to 600. We have also increased the number of provinces where this system is in place from two to six. In incidents where the victim’s safety of life is in danger, the [electronic] bracelet has to be compulsory for the abuser,” she said.
As part of a protocol signed between the family, interior and justice ministries, the government in 2015 introduced the electronic tagging system for perpetrators of domestic violence in a bid to prevent repeated cases of violence across the country.
The system was first put into execution in the capital Ankara and the western province of İzmir before later being extended to four more provinces: Istanbul, the western province of Bursa, the southeastern province of Gaziantep, and the southern province of Antalya.
Following the recent case of the murder of two children by their father Ali Yardım in Istanbul’s Maltepe district on Jan. 2, Kaya said on Jan. 10 that children as well as women living in houses of domestic violence must also be “put under state protection.”
The mother of the children, Dilek Yardım, was staying in a women’s shelter at the time of the killing and was seeking a divorce from her husband over repeated cases of domestic violence.
“We see from the incident in Maltepe that a protection order was issued for the woman [Dilek Yardım], but not the children. The children should have had a protection order as well,” Kaya said.
The government also plans to make women’s shelters compulsory in all municipal districts with a population of more than 100,000, Kaya said. There are currently 137 women’s shelters across Turkey.
“We’ll impose sanction on those [municipalities] that do not open women’s shelters,” she vowed.
The minister also touched upon the government’s plan to monitor the criminal records of all people involved in service occupations related to children.
“These records will be asked for [from the relevant personnel] periodically. Can it be possible for a teacher who has engaged in sexual abuse to continue their profession?” she said.
Also touching on the voluntary ministry-run anger management programs for domestic violence abusers, Kaya cited Ankara as a “pilot province” for the scheme.
“Currently, 103 people are being treated. This is initially in Ankara, which has been selected as the ‘pilot province.’ We are accepting people [into this program] of their own will,” Kaya added.