What’s next, cutting off the hands of thieves?
The significance we attribute to human rights, apart from anything else, sets our level of civilization. Universal human rights law ended felonious punishments. Then came the neoliberal policies, globalization, the shrinking of the social state and the mentality of “Are we going to feed him if we are not to hang him?” With them, practices against human rights started appearing on the agenda.
The regulation that was published in the Official Gazette that introduced a chemical castration punishment for rapists is, for instance, a medieval-type practice.
The point that it is practiced in rare places in Europe does not change the fact that the punishment is primitive. According to feminist lawyer Hülya Gülbahar, these types of punishments are an extension of the conservative ideology: “The conservative world view has not yet adopted that non-irreversible bodily injury punishments are not acceptable under any conditions. Thus, with every opportunity, they defend lynching, capital punishment, castration and retaliation.”
This practice is limited only to pedophiles in the countries where it is adopted. It would be naive to think that this would prevent rapes in our country.
In our country, child abuse and other sex crimes are behavior and traditions that are approved by cultural and religious codes.
Gülbahar said, “The rate of those rapists and child abusers who are actually sick is about 1 percent. But we see that sex crimes against women and children are presented as individual incidents committed by sick people or perverts. This stance means not recognizing the social circumstances that prepare this crime, the sexist and hierarchic social structure that regards men as the owners of women and children, the one that grants men the right to do everything”
Almost all sex crimes are generated from this social structure. Thus, punishments like castration would not work at all. As a matter of fact, in India where there is capital punishment, we cannot count how many women are raped each day. Nobody said “I will be executed, let me not do it.” In other words, these punishments are not deterrents.
Gülbahar finds it “funny” that most of the things that need to be done are not done but such practices are sought. “In the Istanbul Convention, sexual violence crime centers with easy access for women are suggested but there is not even one in Turkey. One is not even planned. While what is required by international agreements is not done for women, they are saying, ‘We will castrate them.’”
Another lawyer, Eray Karınca, said these types of punishments were based on an individual revenge and retaliation mentality and the source was primitive law. Chemical castration was the easy way out, he said, adding, “While you’re at it, why don’t you cut off the arm of the thief?”
Such a matter that directly involves human rights and one that is against bodily integrity cannot be arranged by a regulation, according to Karınca. The regulation would be taken to the Council of State for annulment and it would also be taken to the Constitutional Court. It will probably end up in the Constitutional Court, Karınca said, “Because this regulation is both against the constitution and human rights.”
Penalties such as castration are not cause-oriented and neither are they result-oriented. In fact, only a victim or some victims are selected. “Aren’t executions like this?” asked Gülbahar. “The weakest looking one among the rapists will be selected. Two substance sniffing youngsters would be castrated for instance.”