ARTICLE 103 OF THE TURKISH PENAL CODE, RECENTLY AMENDED AND PASSED THROUGH PARLIAMENT, RUNS THE RISK OF SEEKING CONSENT FROM CHILDEN BETWEEN 12 AND 15 YEARS OF AGE

 

 

 

The government proposed a bill late at night on November 17, 2016 that would grant amnesty to the perpetrators of sexual abuse if they married their victims, and later had to withdraw it following widespread uproar first and foremost from the TPC 103 Women’s Platform comprised of nearly 140 autonomous women’s organizations, as well as from numerous groups in society, ranging from women’s NGOs to children’s NGOs, from general practitioners to lawyers, all across the country and abroad. However, Article 13 of omnibus Draft Law No. 438, which proposed amendments to Article 103 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC), passed through parliament on November 24, 2016. Accordingly, there is now an age categorization for 12-to-15-year-olds in Article 103 of the TPC.

 

 

 

In its amended form, Article 103 of the TPC does still prevent seeking consent from children below 15 years of age. Yet because age of consent is not clearly stated in the law in a way that leaves no room for interpretation, this could lead to different interpretations in practice, as witnessed in certain cases in the past. Thus, there is a danger that in practice, some courts could seek consent from children between 12 and 15 years of age. While the Constitutional Court justified its decision to annul Article 103 on the argument that children are affected differently from sexual abuse depending on their age, and tried to resolve the matter by creating a separate category for 12-to-15-year-old children, this categorization could cause courts to question the consent of children in this age range and “force them to marry the person who abused them.” Unfortunately, there are cases in Turkey’s juridical history where some courts sought consent from children aged 13, even before this age categorization was introduced. Meanwhile, efforts to generate public perception to the effect that children between 12 and 15 years of age can “consent” to sexual abuse and be married run the risk of opening the door to early marriages, which already has partial political support as evinced by the withdrawn amnesty bill.

 

 

 

In its current form, the article passed through parliament could give rise to the danger of varying interpretations of age of consent. The reason for this is that although the amended article is said to have been developed to increase the legal punishment for the rape of children below the age of 12, it categorizes children by age and opens the door to lowering age of consent to 12. This could clear the legal path to pushing girls into forced and early marriages. Lowering age of consent and marriage to 12 in practice will become very easy if a decision by even a single judge is based on this article and is then accepted as jurisprudence; it would not even have to be enacted into law. Statements by the Justice Minister in relation to past or future de facto marriages based on “the consent of the minor and assent from the family” clearly point to this danger. Children under 15 cannot give consent, and assent from the family cannot cover-up the crime committed by the perpetrator.

 

 

 

Here, once again, are our demands and recommendations to effectively combat children’s sexual abuse:

 

 

 

1.      It should be clearly stated in Article 103 of the TPC that it is unacceptable for children under 15 to consent to sexual behavior: If both parties who engaged in sexual behavior are children, persons who facilitated, encouraged or forced this behavior must be punished. Otherwise, it is highly likely that emboldened by the fact children receive no punishment for it, these children will be forced into “marriage” on the basis of excuses such as traditions, customs, and religious references.

 

2.      Early and forced marriage should be criminalized in the TPC: Early and forced marriage needs to be defined as a crime; this is an obligation Turkey must fulfill according to Article 37 of the Istanbul Convention.

 

3.      Marrying children via a religious marriage ceremony should be criminalized and all religious marriage ceremonies should go on official record: When the Constitutional Court annulled the article in the TPC that criminalized holding a religious marriage ceremony prior to an official marriage ceremony, it cleared the way for both children’s sexual abuse through means of a religious marriage, and male polygamy.

 

 

 

It is for these reasons that we, as the TPC 103 Women’s Platform, believe that the 12-to-15 age categorization in the amended article could generate different interpretations in practice.  Consequently, we call on all members of parliament to do whatever it takes to enact into law our additional demands listed above and ensure Article 103 of the TPC is applied in a way that makes no reference to the consent and marriage of children below 15 years of age. We also call on the public, the media, and all women’s and children’s organizations first and foremost, to monitor relevant court cases and legal decisions in the coming days! 

 

 

 

THE TPC 103 WOMEN’S PLATFORM, November 25, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

                    1.            Adalar Vakfı Kadın Çalışma Grubu

 

                    2.            Adana Büyükşehir Belediyesi Kent Konseyi Kadın Meclisi / Adana Cosmopolitan Municipality City Council Women’s Assembly

 

                    3.            Aka-Der Kadın Faaliyeti

 

                    4.            Akdam - Adana Kadın Dayanışma Merkezi ve Sığınmaevi Derneği / Akdam - Adana Women’s Solidarity Center and Shelter

 

                    5.            Almanya Göçmen Kadınlar Birliği

 

                    6.            Altınoluk Demokrasi Platformu Kadınları

 

                    7.            Ankara Feminist Kolektif - Ankara Feminist Collective

 

                    8.            Ankara Kadın Platformu - Ankara Women’s Platform

 

                    9.            Antalya Feminist Kolektif - Antalya Feminist Collective

 

                 10.            Antalya Kadın Danışma Merkezi ve Dayanışma Derneği - Antalya Women’s Solidarity Center and Shelter

 

                 11.            Antalya Kadın Platformu

 

                 12.            Avrupa Kadın Lobisi Türkiye / European Women’s Lobby, Turkey

 

                 13.            Aydın Kadın Efeler Derneği

 

                 14.            Ayvalık Bağımsız Kadın İnisiyatifi / Ayvalık Independent Women’s Initiative

 

                 15.            Bağımsız Kadın Derneği Mersin / Independent Woman Association Mersin

 

                 16.            Barış İçin Kadın Girişimi (BİKG) / Women’s Peace Initiative

 

                 17.            Bilgi Kadın / Bilgi Women

 

                 18.            Bodrum Kadın Dayanışma Derneği / Bodrum Women’s Solidarity Association

 

                 19.            BPW Türkiye - İş ve Meslek Sahibi Kadınlar Federasyonu / BPW Turkey - Federation of Business and Professional Women

 

                 20.            Buca Evka-1 Kadın Kültür Ve Dayanışma (Bekev) / Buca Evka-1 Women’s Culture and Solidarity (Bekev)

 

                 21.            CEİD – Cinsiyet Eşitliği İzleme Derneği / Association for Monitoring Gender Equality

 

                 22.            Cinsel Şiddetle Mücadele Derneği / Association for Struggle Against Sexual Violence

 

                 23.            Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği Kadın ve Toplumsal Cinsiyet Çalışma Grubu

 

                 24.            Çanakkale El Emeğini Değerlendirme ve Kadın Danışma Merkezi –Elder / Women’s Hand Made Work Valuation Association – Women’s Consulting Center/ Elder

 

                 25.            Çiğli Evka-2 Kadın Kültür Derneği (Çekev) / Çiğli Evka 2 Women’s Culture House Association (Çekev)

 

                 26.            Datça Kadın Girişimi / Datça Women’s Association

 

                 27.            Demir Leblebi Kadın Derneği / Demir Leblebi Women’s Association

 

                 28.            Demokratik Kadın Hareketi / Democratic Women’s Movement

 

                 29.            Disk Kadın Komisyonu / Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions (DİSK) Women’s Committee

 

                 30.            Diyarbakır İş Kadınları Derneği

 

                 31.            Edirne Çocuk Hakları Derneği

 

                 32.            Edirne Kadın Merkezi Danışma Derneği (Ekamader) /  Edirne Women’s Counseling Centre Association

 

                 33.            Edremit Demokrasi Platformu Kadınları

 

                 34.            Ege Kadın Buluşması Platformu

 

                 35.            Ekmek ve Gül Kadın Grubu

 

                 36.            Engelli Kadın Derneği – Enkad / Association of Women With Disabilities

 

                 37.            Erktolia

 

                 38.            Eşit Yaşam Derneği

 

                 39.            EŞİTİZ - Eşitlik İzleme Kadın Grubu / Equality Watch Women’s Group

 

                 40.            Eşitlik Koalisyonu Kadın Grubu

 

                 41.            Eşitlik ve Adalet İçin Kadın Grubu / Women for Equality and Justice

 

                 42.            Ev Eksenli Çalışan Kadınlar Çalışma Grubu / Home Based Working Women Study Group

 

                 43.            EVKAD Adana / Housewives Solidarity and Development Association EVKAD Adana

 

                 44.            Kapatılan VAKAD'ın Emekçileri

 

                 45.            Federation of Business and Professional Women

 

                 46.            Femin Art Uluslararası Kadın Sanatçılar Derneği

 

                 47.            Fethiye Kadın Platformu

 

                 48.            Filmmor Kadın Kooperatifi / Filmmor Women’s Cooperative

 

                 49.            FKF’li Kadınlar

 

                 50.            Göz Altında Cinsel Taciz ve Tecavüze Karşı Hukuki Yardım Bürosu

 

                 51.            Göztepe Dayanismasi L'animo Kadın Grubu

 

                 52.            Günebakan  Kadın Derneği

 

                 53.            Hevi LGBTİ Derneği

 

                 54.            IAW – International Alliance of Women

 

            &n

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