Where is the ‘good conduct’ here?

Where is the ‘good conduct’ here?

A cab driver in the eastern province of Diyarbakır took a mentally handicapped 14-year-old boy home and sexually abused him. A medical report was presented and confirmed sexual abuse. 

An indictment was prepared and the defendant was facing up to 15 years in prison on charges of “aggravated sexual abuse of a minor.”

Then, later, the victim and his family changed their statements and withdrew their complaint. We are all aware of the stepping in of notable locals and the withdrawal of the complaints. 

In this case, since it is not a crime dependent on the complaint, the case continued on charges of “aggravated sexual abuse of a minor.” 

In the last session, the prosecutor asked for the acquittal of the defendant. The court sentenced the defendant to eight years on charges of “simple sexual abuse.” It also reduced the penalty to six years and eight months because of “good conduct.” 

In the justification of the decision, the defendant was reported to have not completed the act (story by Felat Bozarslan from Doğan News Agency). 

It is not possible to understand how this incident is not considered aggravated sexual abuse when all the features of sexual abuse are present but just by coincidence the attacker failed to complete the act. The guy pulled down the trousers of the child, and also his underwear. He undressed himself; he attacked the boy. Do you see any “good conduct” there? 

I do not see any kind of good conduct. Yes, we know that judges grant reductions because of the conduct the defendant demonstrates in court. But, have those judges, for one moment, visualized the incident in their minds? Because if they run the film in their heads, then they can see that an “incomplete” rape is not a mitigating factor from the point of view of the victim.

On the other hand, what does the court try, this disgusting crime or the offender’s conduct in court? 

How can there be a reduction in the sentence of a defendant who has attempted rape? 

Turkey Women Associations Federation head Canan Güllü said there was not much difference between the completion of the act of rape or the uncompleted act in terms of the effect on the victims. “I met with women who had been raped and who had been attempted to be raped in Bosnia. Even if the rape was not completed, a woman, who was explaining how she was attacked, fainted even though 20 years had passed since the incident. Apparently, 20 years did not help the woman overcome the trauma. The fact that the rape did not happen has not changed anything. Women and children are going through these traumas,” she said.

Güllü said the judges were reducing sentences without considering the fear, the damaged psychological state and the descent in the quality of life of the victims.

“Recently, some courage has been observed in violent men. Men have been calling hotlines, asking for the addresses of [women’s] shelters. They say they will kill ‘that woman.’ They say we are provoking them, but they will kill her anyway. They curse. There is carelessness, there is distrust in justice and there is abuse of the law,” she said.

Nowadays, a bill is being prepared where these reductions will be are lifted. I don’t think lifting reductions is ever possible or it will be fair in every case. This issue cannot be solved with more severe penalties anyway. It can only be solved by a change of mentality. 

These incidents should not be covered up in those places where children and women who are abused and raped reside. “Opinion leaders” should not step in and silence the victim. Judges should not think, “Let me apply all kinds of reductions so that the file is not overruled at the Supreme Court of Appeals.” 

Our laws should be harmonized with the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible. Gender equality classes should be added to the curricula. State television should broadcast quality information. Without these, nothing will change. 

But, most importantly, both justice and society should see the issue is not a slit or a fracture. The issue is a crime committed against human dignity.