Women and children before the misogynist law

Women and children before the misogynist law

The proposal that featured certain pardons for abusers who married underage girls has been withdrawn back to the commission. 

Yes, that was an achievement. But the matter is not closed.

Four months ago, the Constitutional Court (AYM) annulled a clause in Article 103 of the Turkish Penal Code about sexual abuse against children which said all kinds of sexual acts against a child who is under the age of 15 will be considered as sexual abuse. The high court had given six months to the government to make a new legal arrangement.  

The high court had given six months to the government to make a new legal arrangement. 

 Last week, a bill that was submitted to parliament and was approved the other day, on the sexual abuse of children, was based on this decision made by the AYM.

This decision of the high court was justified because the perpetrator was also a minor, then the minimum penalty was too high (16 years). In other words, a case between peers should be assessed differently than a case when an adult and a child’s abuse was in question, the AYM thought. 

The decision had foreseen a legal arrangement where the penalty would be gradual in a case where the perpetrator was also a minor, but this has totally been disregarded in the law. 

The penalty was increased if the victim is under the age of 12, but women’s organizations are currently protesting this, because this means “the age of consent” has been lowered to 12. They are right because of the current situation of the justice system. In courts, where misogynist mentality dominates, there is a possibility that this law will be interpreted as impunity with the excuse that there was consent between the ages 12 and 15. Now that religious marriages, conducted in the presence of an imam, can be performed before civil marriages are not considered a criminal offence anymore, children of this age group bear the risk of being married off in a religious marriage. This may also pave the way for decisions that might consider 8 years as too much of a penalty for 40 to 50-year-old perpetrators who have abused 15 year old children. 

According to the Lanzarote Convention that we are a signatory to, sexual activities of between children with mutual consent, are excluded from the scope of sexual abuse against children. The convention also recommends that this should not be included in the penal code. It also wants an age gap between the children to be taken into consideration. 

Our new law does not distinctly clarify the difference between a case where the perpetrator is also a child and the case where a person is misusing trust, authority or influence to abuse a child. 

Besides, this law does not even cover this issue. 

Sexual abuse advances mostly over the internet nowadays. The defenselessness and disadvantaged state of children on the internet are abused more easily. 

This being the case, there is not even one sentence mentioned on the sexual abuse of children over the internet. Horrible things are happening on the internet but our courts consider them harassment rather than abuse. 

As a matter of fact, the Council of Europe in changes it made in the Lanzarote Convention in 2015, now considers sharing of sexual content and images over the internet as sexual abuse. 

This bill should not have been enacted as it is. 

To be able to make legal arrangements that protect children and their interests, the practice of making laws with slow and outdated techniques should be abandoned. We should adapt to the fast pace of the time. The cure should not be worse than the ailment.