Heavy verdicts could prevent child abuse: Women associations head
Ayşe Arman - ISTANBUL
Child abusers should be sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment as a deterrent measure, Canan Güllü, the head of the Federation of Women Associations of Turkey (TKDF) has said.
“[The abuser] should pay a heavy penalty by being sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment in this world, not in the hereafter. That would be adequately deterrent in my opinion. A heavy verdict could be preventive,” Güllü said on Feb. 21.
“Our problem is in preventing rape, sexual abuse and violence. Since we have not taken a single preventive step on this issue, resorting to the death penalty is not a solution,” she told daily Hürriyet, referring to public calls to bring capital punishment for child abuse back into the legal system.
Letter sent to president
The TKDF head said the association has sent a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding the debates on child abuse and violence against women. Although taking the government’s decision to review legal punishments against such offenses as “good news,” she said child abuse crimes should not only be regarded as assaults against children under the age of 12 because every individual under 18 is considered a child. She also criticized good conduct abatements and media blackouts in cases of child abuse or rape.
“I think [in such cases] media blackout is the worst decision that could be made by the government. It becomes a party in the case, not in favor of the victim but on the side of the perpetrator. From our standpoint, the prosecutor’s office should side with the victim as soon as such an incident erupts in order to protect him or her and to provide legal and psychological support,” said Güllü.
She advised the government to make progress on this issue in terms of education, change of mentality in the ranks of the judiciary and adapting domestic laws to international conventions.
Following an increase in incidents of child abuse, the Turkish government has decided to set up a commission including six ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Feb. 19.
“Deterrence will be achieved by adopting the harshest penalties. There can be no delay in the tackling of these issues. Those who commit these crimes must be excluded from the possibility of reduced sentences. Wounds inflicted in society are the same as killing a person. The penalties given for such crimes should be in line with our feelings. We will resolve this issue at the soonest possible date,” said Erdoğan at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s parliamentary group meeting on Feb. 20.