Turkish court says man’s wedding with 14-year-old a ‘mistake,’ rules for acquittal
DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News AgencyA local court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır has ruled to acquit a man who held a religious wedding with a 14-year-old child in 2009, saying he believed the girl was older made a “mistake.”
The case of child abuse was revealed when a 21-year-old woman, identified only by the initials M.A., appealed to a local court in Diyarbakır demanding that a man with whom she had an informal religious wedding return jewelry gifted during their wedding party.
M.A. said she was married to a man 16 years her senior, identified only by the initials A.K., in the southern province of Adana in 2009 when she was only 14 years old. She reportedly continued the informal marriage for two years, during which she had a miscarriage and was subjected to violence.
“He completely broke off ties with me in 2011 after taking the gold jewelry. I’m currently married to someone else. I will not press charges against him, but I want the gold that was gifted to me by my own family members during the wedding,” said M.A. in her testimony.
After it became clear that M.A. was married as a child bride, the public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into A.K., his father, and the girl’s parents, demanding at least 15 years in jail for child sexual abuse, actual bodily harm and theft.
The man claims that he did not know M.A.’s age and said she “looked over 20 years old” at the time they were married.
“I stayed with her for over a year. I had sexual intercourse with her, multiple times, with her consent. The victim looked over 20 years of age,” A.K. said, adding that he found out about her real age three months into their “marriage.”
As part of the trial, the girl underwent a psychological evaluation at the Çukurova University Medical Faculty, which revealed that her mental health was damaged due to the sexual abuse. The medical report said she should be regularly supervised for possibly permanent effects of the trauma.
However, the public prosecutor argued otherwise and said the marriage and sexual intercourse occurred with the girl’s consent. A mistake occurred due to M.A.’s age and there was no concrete and convincing evidence for the other claims, the prosecutor added.
The court agreed in its ruling, acquitting all four suspects of child sexual abuse and acquitting A.K. of theft, actual bodily harm and insult.
In its detailed ruling, the court referred to Article 30 of the Turkish Penal Code, which says a person who commits an “unavoidable mistake” cannot be punished as they cannot be considered to have acted intentionally.
The court said both parties had consented to the marriage, although the child was not even 15 years old at the time of the wedding. It stated that the victim’s physical appearance at the time of the incident caused A.K. to make an otherwise unavoidable mistake.