Last week, a news piece came out demonstrating that the Ministry of Justice has not published sexual abuse-related data for the year 2018 and has blocked access to detailed figures from the years between 2002 and 2017.
A new piece of legislation, which would suspend the sentence of the perpetrator in the event where the child abuser would marry his victim, is soon to be discussed by Turkey's parliament. The legislation would be part of a new regulation package which also includes an alimony.
While this legislation had already come to light in 2016 and had been defended through the reasoning that there were too many aggrieved parties. For some reason, these aggrieved parties began to surface after 2015. Where were they before? And why are they always linked to the abuse of children and women.
Are these "aggrieved parties" more important than all women and children combined? What kind of victim could favor something like this?
At the time, the Justice Minister had said "they are our party voters, we have to solve their problem", referring to 286 aggrieved parties.
In 2012, Turkey ratified the Istanbul convention, a convention against domestic violence prepared by the Council of Europe. The Istanbul convention - which is vehemently by the Justice and Development Party - makes it mandatory for the state to record violence against women, record data on a regular basis and make the information accessible to the public. Regardless of the convention, Turkish law also provides for such obligations. Sexual abuse is a form of violence. It is thus an obligation to provide information to the public regarding sexual abuse as it with any other other crimes. Yet no only has the state failed to properly record such violence-related data, it is now blocking access to existing data.
Though the government refuses to listen to us, here is why we oppose the new regulation package
The suspension or partial lifting of a sentence in the even where an abused child marries its the abuser, would encourage a perception of "impunity" and therefore increase the number of abuse crimes. This regulation would entail the legitimization, normalization, decriminalization of sexual abuse crimes. In other words, the state itself would encourage people with a potential to abuse to go ahead and commit abuse crimes.
Moreover, just as we had said during the debate revolving around the death sentence, human rights are a whole. If one concession is allowed, the foundations are undermined and the institution itself collapses.
There can be no such thing as an "exception" with such sensitive crimes as these. If such "exception" are made, punishments cease to deter, laws are no longer respected and society slides into chaos.
The crimes which the government says it abhors, will happen to your own children if this law if pushed through. Families have already started to follow their children in a somewhat paranoid manner.
Beyond the international agreements we have signed on the matter, it violates the Constitution and Turkish Civil Code. It is clearly stated in these that everyone under the age of 18 is considered as a child and the state is under the obligation to protect children.
People under 18 cannot get married. Only those above the age of 16 can get married with a court decision, which is another exception which should be removed. With these in place, marrying a little girl to her abuser is both against the law and also paves the way for child marriages. Abuse would become a of tool to ensure early marriages.
Moreover, marrying a abused child to its perpetrator entails unspeakable psychological trouble for the child. How can a child choose to marry from its own free will? How can a child marry her rapist and spend the rest of her life with that person?
A child can't even make the discern that what happened to her was a crime. And exactly because of this reason, how can one talk about that child's consent?
What about the child's future?
Maybe that child wants to study, to work. Maybe she has dreams that she wants to achieve. How can you condemn that child to a life at home with husband and children? It is every child's right to dream and work to achieve those dreams. How can you take away this right from them?
As we have stated many times already, a parliamentary divorce commission revealed how the state had eroded our hard-won rights. These new regulations are in line with the government's plans to subjugate women, getting them married, preventing them from getting divorced and reproducing, a lot.
None of this is a coincidence, nor is it innocent.
As for the data, data is what helps you understand the course of events in a country or regarding an issue. And that's precisely why they conceal these figures.
As you might recall, a 12-point sexual abuse law draft from April 2018 included a "publication ban". Back then, we had already said that a publication ban would jeopardize the public's right to information. The reason why the government has sought to block access to such information is that it knows the increase in abuse cases will hurt votes. Let's write it down what has already been recorded here, so it is archived.
According to the 'cases regarding sexual abuse of children' statistics included in previous reports published by the Ministry of Justice, there have been 153,250 trials between the years 2010 and 2018.
There were 16,135 cases in 2010, 16,828 in 2011 and 17,589 cases in 2012 due to sexual abuse of children allegations
The remainder of the figures is as follows:
If we cannot stop this regulation, I'm afraid we will have to record the date for 2019 data ourselves.
Just like they are writing laws which cover up sexual abuse crimes, they are covering up data. For them, sexual abuse crimes no less than dirt to sweep under the rug. But there one thing I want to say:
Are you trying to fool us?