Women’s Rights Center and Children’s Rights Center of Istanbul Bar Association together with the Union of Women’s Organizations in Istanbul (consisting of 40 women’s organizations) made a joint press conference for the withdrawal of the draft bill that would legitimize child sexual abuse. The press conference took place within the premises of Istanbul Bar Association at 11.00 on Monday, November 21, 2016. Attorney-at-Law Aydeniz Alisbah Tuskan, Treasurer (Member) of the Board of Directors of Istanbul Bar Association, who is the Coordinator of Women’s and Children’s Rights Centers of Istanbul Bar Association, presented the joint press release of Istanbul Bar Association and Women’s Organizations Union in Istanbul.
Please find the relevant link below: http://www.istanbulbarosu.org.tr/Detail.asp?CatID=1&SubCatID=1&ID=11905&des=TECAVUZ-MESRULASTIRILAMAZ,-COCUK-GELINLER-YASA-TEKLIFI-BIR-AN-ONCE-GERI-CEKILMELI-VE-BU-UTANCA-SON-VERILMELIDIR
Istanbul Bar Association is deeply concerned by the draft bill submitted to the Parliament during the legislative debates on November 17 which may lead to some type of amnesty for child abuse perpetrators on the condition that the perpetrator marries the victim.
If adopted in its current form, the draft bill would weaken Turkey’s ability to combat sexual abuse and child marriage. It would create a perception of impunity in favour of perpetrators of such child rights violations. In addition, it would increase the risk for further victimization of the child by marrying the perpetrator of the sexual abuse.
Turkey is a state party to both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. While acknowledging Turkey’s commitment to children’s rights and the multiple efforts carried out in the past decades to realize them, it is essential that the legal framework continues to be strengthened and stays aligned with international standards to guarantee that children are protected against all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation, including child marriage.
Any forms of sexual violence against children are crimes which should be punished as such. In all cases, the best interest of the child should prevail.
We will not accept any bill that legitimizes “rape” of women and children.
The AKP’s bill on marrying off the children with their rapists and sexual harassers should immediately be withdrawn!
In addition to this bill, the ruling party currently discusses whether to lower the age of consent for sexual intercourse to 12 by means of making amendments to the Article No.103 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) despite sustained objections of women’s organizations. If the Article No.103 passes into law as suggested above, the majority of the perpetrators who are currently on trial or will be on trial as convicts of sexual abuse will have the right to assert that “the child gave consent” and avoid punishment. Thus, the amendments to the Article No.103 of the TPC, as well as the bill proposed on the night of November 17 will put in place both retrospective and prospective regulations.
1. With the amendment to the Article No.103, the age of consent for sexual intercourse will be lowered to 12 from 15 and the perpetrators of ongoing criminal suits and those who will be convicted of sexual harassment in the future will be exempt from criminal punishment.
2. The bill proposed on the night of 17 November paves the way to retrospective remission of punishment for the sexual harassers. The bill aims at pardoning of the past sexual crimes and the releasing of child sexual harassers.
3. The “legal ground” is being laid down that will result in sexual violence against girls aged 12 and above and in marrying off them with their sexual harassers.
Both the amnesty bill proposed as a fait accompli and approved with the votes of AKP and the amendment to the Article No.103 that will result in lowering of the legal age of consent to 12, are against the rights of the child and woman and violate international obligations. Therefore, they cannot be accepted under any circumstances. Threats and violence against the vested rights of women and girls have exponentially increased in Turkey. Among the most dangerous of all these threats are the amendment to the Article No.103 of TPC and the bill approved unanimously by the ruling party deputies, which might be passed into law at any moment. The article stating “releasing the perpetrator in cases where the perpetrator marries the victim” was amended with the campaigns of the women’s organizations during the TPC Reform in 2004 when the TPC Woman Platform demanded that the foregoing article be changed. Approval of the proposed amendment and the bill means that this article will be restored in law again. And this, beyond any doubt, will be a regression in the vested legal rights of the women and girls!
While there is a worldwide fight against child sexual abuse, and forced marriages and child marriages are prohibited and the minimum age of marriage is increased around the world, the course of events in Turkey is extremely worrisome. Those who wish to lower the age of consent to 12, who have proposed the amnesty bill for the convicts of child sexual abuse and those who approved the bill should urgently reverse this wrong. Doing otherwise, will lead to irreversible consequences and marks the usurpation of the rights of the children and women by the Parliament, the representatives of the public.