Turkish justice marries off children like this

Turkish justice marries off children like this

In Ankara, a 14-year-old girl (let’s call her Sema) was raped by her cousin 10 years her senior. She got pregnant. Nine months later, while she was in Kırşehir with her family, she went into labor and was taken to hospital. 

The doctor informed the police because Sema was under 15. An investigation was launched. Because the crime scene was Ankara, the file was sent to the office of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor. A case was opened. Sema’s parents said she would marry when she was old enough for a legal marriage. 

In these kinds of crimes, because the parents are participants they should also be considered perpetrators.

But in this example the prosecutor neglected this aspect and no case was opened against the parents. The parents denied knowledge of the crime anyway. 

Sema’s cousin ended up being tried as a defendant, but the two families reached an agreement and Sema’s family withdrew their complaint. 

Under normal conditions, because Sema is under 15 this case should continue as a public case. This is because in sexual harassment cases for children under the age of 15, if the victim or the family do not complain or withdraw their complaint then the case is dismissed. 

Knowing this, Sema’s parents crafted a story in order to refute the case against their relative. Sema’s father said his daughter was not born in hospital so her age was not correct in her ID card. Later the defendant’s lawyer said the same. In other words, Sema’s family and the defendant’s family cooperated to show she was over 15. 

Sema was sent twice for medical examination to determine her bone age. The medical reports said her bone age suggested she was “15-16 years old.” Actually, we know from other cases that bone age can have a margin of error of up to two years.

The court did not take into consideration this margin of error, so after the medical report on her bone age Sema became one year older. 

Meanwhile, the date she was taken to hospital to give birth became the date of crime: The date when she was sexually abused and impregnated. 

The court that made Sema older for the sake of acquitting the defendant, instead of going back nine months and 10 days, took the date of birth of the baby as the date of the crime, ruling that the child was therefore over 15 on the date of crime. 

In fact, even if the court had added just one year to Sema’s age, she would have again been under 15 on the date of the crime. 

The case amounts to a chain of mistakes, negligence and connivance… 

The family, the justice system and the birth registration office cooperated in adding a year to the child’s age.

They then acquitted the defendant. Because there was no appeal the ruling was final. The sexual abuser was cleared. 

A child who was raped at 14 was made to look like she was 16.

As if that was not enough, after this case Sema’s parents applied to a family court to request permission for an early marriage. As luck would have it, their lawyer at the family court was the same as the defendant’s lawyer. The person who was defending the defendant in the sexual abuse case was now the lawyer of the family requesting permission for a marriage. 

There’s justice for you…