Pressure mounting on court over rape scandal in Turkey

Pressure mounting on court over rape scandal in Turkey

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Pressure mounting on court over rape scandal in Turkey

Şahin calls for a wait-and-see approach until final ruling is made in a rape case. AA photo

Pressure mounted yesterday on the Supreme Court of Appeals over a ruling that upheld reduced sentences for the abuse of a 13-year-old girl on grounds that she consented to sex, as Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin said the court was yet to pronounce its final word.

“The Supreme Court of Appeals is saying that the case is not yet over and that the media have distorted the issue. Let’s wait and see their decision,” Şahin told reporters in Parliament.

The minister said she had spoken with the victim, identified only as N.Ç., and her lawyers, pledging “all support” on issues the government might help with.

“N.Ç. is our daughter and Turkey is a state based on the rule of law. We will follow up this issue together,” she said.

The Supreme Court of Appeals said Wednesday that “not all aspects of the judicial process have been completed yet,” pointing out that the case covered offenses committed in 2002 and 2003, and that the suspects were indicted in six separate charge-sheets.

In 2002, N.Ç. met female suspects T. and E., identified only by their initials, who cajoled her into sexual intercourse with 26 individuals in exchange for money. The men included soldiers, civil servants, shopkeepers and teachers.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said the controversy arose from the fact that the case pertained to offenses committed before a penal code reform introduced tougher provisions in 2005.

The Turkish Bar Association, however, said yesterday that even the implementation of old provisions could not justify the ruling.

“To consider and accept that N.Ç. willingly allowed herself to be raped is against the realities of life, and also against the letter and spirit of the law that was in effect when the offenses were committed,” the association said in a statement.

Women’s rights activist Leman Yurtsever, who has acted as foster mother to N.Ç., now 20, said they were planning to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

A last recourse of appeal is also possible at the Supreme Court of Appeal’s general assembly chamber, which makes definitive rulings.

In a separate development, Minister Şahin visited Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel to ask for the Army’s support in efforts to stamp out violence against women.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Şahin said the military was a key venue to reach out to adult men and she would discuss how to streamline education for soldiers to raise awareness of women’s rights.

Turlish President Abdullah Gül also commented on the scandal, stating that he was "deeply disturbed" by the reduction of sentences.

"As far as I know, the judiciary process isn't over yet," Gül said via his Twitter account. "I hope that a decision will be made that would coincide with the public conscience."