Turkish court discredits report diagnosing victim as ‘healthy’ after sexual abuse
DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News AgencyA Turkish court has for the first time declined to take into account a forensics report which claimed that a sexual assault victim’s mental health did not suffer due to the abuse, saying the procedure to determine the psychological impact of abuse became depressing in and of itself.
“The evaluation of the mental health of victims of sexual abuse requires long and repetitive examinations. The process leading to the diagnosis has become something that could hurt the mental health of the victims,” a heavy penal court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır said in its reasoned decision in a case of the sexual abuse by a man against his 17-year-old granddaughter.
The victim, identified as M.O., had been living with her grandfather, A.O., since her parents’ separation. In her initial testimonies, which were provided with consistency, M.O. said she had been a victim of sexual abuse since the age of eight.
The court ruled for 7.5 years of imprisonment of A.O. without resorting to a good conduct reduction and disregarding the victim’s withdrawal of her complaint after getting engaged.
“No girl, child or woman in a feudal, patriarchal place like Diyarbakır - where she would be shamed, oppressed and risk her future and potential marriages over an incident targeting her chastity and honor - would bring an unreal incident to the attention of official authorities,” the court said, adding the withdrawal of the complaint by M.O. should not be given credit.
The court said that the mere fact M.O. was forced to change her testimony did not mean the abuse did not take place and highlighted that her initial testimonies should be given prevalence.
The frequency of examinations of sexual abuse victims has been a controversial issue in Turkey, which recently saw an increase in reports of sexual abuse against children. Human rights defenders argue repetitive examinations further disturb a victim’s mental health.
The forensic medicine institute also came under fire as recently as May, after reports revealed it gave a “virginity report” to a 14-year-old girl who was abused by her father, brother and uncle over a span of seven years, even though she later appeared to be pregnant.