We, as women associations in Turkey, have been trying to inform public and parliamentarians via media about increasing violence against violence and child abuse based on field research. Before, we had expressed that it was a very dangerous initiative to decrease the age of 15 to the age of 12 in the 103. Article of Turkish Penal Code which was about child abuse. This initiative was cancelled by the Constitution Court. We had warned public and parliamentarians about laws no. 5237, no. 6545, and no. 6763 which increased punishments for sexual crimes but did not have any significant effect on the rate of these crimes due to not addressing structural problems. Similarly, we see today that extra precautions and increases in punishments for child abuse are given as general reasons for effective fight against child abuse in the draft law which amends some articles of the Turkish Penal Code.

We, as Federation of Women Associations of Turkey, have been working in the field for long years. We’d like to share our knowledge based on field research with the parliamentarians. Although increasing punishments can be necessity for some situations, we think it will have the least effect to eliminate this problem in Turkey.  

            This draft aims to silence down the society; it acts as if it is to prevent abuse. It is to prevent media’s support for elimination of sexual abuse by bringing broadcasting bans. It is to cover up increasing abuse cases with the words of “we made law”; it is to rewrite existing law with different words.

The draft law says that the one who is punished for sexual abuse will not be able to become a public servant. Turkish Penal Code’s law no. 103 says that the lowest punishment for sexual abuse is three years. Thus, the one who is punished for child abuse is already banned from becoming a public servant. That is why, this initiative is just to mislead public.

The draft law says that the discretionary abatement necessitates written reason. As known, discretionary abatements have been picking public’s conscience. With the draft law, such discretionary abatements as the esteemed stance, provocation, good conduct necessitates reason. As it is also stated in the justification of this draft article, article 141 of the Turkish Constitution and article 34 of the Turkish Penal Code, state that decisions necessitate reason. Thus, the draft is a repetition of existing laws.

The draft law to increase punishments is problematic; the definition of sexual abuse of Turkish Penal Code article 103, which is the fundamental problem, is moved to the draft law. Moreover, the draft does not include any increase in the punishment is the offense is not committed as stated in the law. 

You will remember acquittances from sexual crimes based on such reasons as “he did not have erection,” “no organ got into the body.” Sexual abuse is limited to cases when an organ or an object is inserted in the body of the victim and increases in punishment contain these cases. However, sexual abuse also includes cases no organ or no object is inserted in victim’s body. However, these cases are ignored.

The draft law increases the existing punishment from 39 years to 50 years, and 33 years to 40 years. These kind of increases without any precautions cannot bring any solutions. Moreover, the draft decreases the age the victim from 15 to 12 to be considered as child abuse. Thus, a previous failed initiative brought to the parliament is now finalized in the draft law. It is worth stating one more time that, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states everyone below the age of 18 as child. 12 age limit cannot be accepted and cannot have any rightful explanation.

The draft law also changes the existing article that states obligation to “participate in programs for medical purposes” with “participate in programs for rehabilitation purposes.”    

Existing Law on the civil registration services states that individuals shall inform the civil registration service within 20 working days when they change their addresses, and the convicts of such crimes shall declare address change within seven days to probation directorate via the police. The draft changes the sixth article of Child Protection Law. Social Work institution is replaced with the Family and Social Policies Ministry. There is no need for this change. Because the law (decree-law 633, article no 35.) establishing the Family and Social Policies Ministry states that any reference to General Directorate of Social work and Child Protection Institution is considered to be for the above stated ministry.   

Chemical castration included in the draft law violates the rights under the protection of European Convention on Human Rights. Research show that chemical castration violates the physical integrity of the individual and may have side effects that impede living a healthy life. Article 17 of the Turkish Constitution states that physical integrity of the individual cannot be violated without the consent of the individual. Human Rights Charter says that individual cannot be punished with inhuman punishments. The draft at the moment is to create human rights violations and to open the door for populist discussions.

Broadcast limitations in the draft law seem to be ambiguous with regard to its content and quality. It possesses the risk of elimination public’s right to be informed. Moreover, these limitations will annihilate public visibility of the issue, deterrence due to perpetrator’s disclosure.

There is no reference or regulation for victim’s rehabilitation and support. Moreover, there is no regulation in the draft law to prevent early and forced marriages which create legal and societal basis for sexual abuse.

To sum up, this draft law is nothing more than just disappointment. Increasing the existing punishments is not the only way to eliminate sexual abuse of children. Aggravated punishments can be effective for penetrators but cannot prevent on its own existence of new penetrators. Real problem is not about legal regulations. It is about implementation of law, problems faced during implementation of law, lack of mentality change in judiciary, non-implementation of international agreements particularly Istanbul Convention, and lack of political will for gender equality.

Dear parliamentarians,

Keep your eyes and ears open. This country will not be a toy for nonskilled executive, and law makers. It is an above-politics issue to form public opinion about this draft law. Thus, we call all parliamentarians and public to protect our children and to work very hard to reject the draft law. 





Canan Güllü

Head of Federation of Women Associations of Turkey