As reported in this previous post, a decision by Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals to lower the sentences imposed on a group of men found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl because she was deemed to have "consented" to the acts has drawn widespread shock and criticism in Turkey. But the fallout from the court's decision continues. From Today's Zaman:
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ joined on Sunday a chorus of criticism over an appeals court decision that gave reduced sentences to 26 men accused of raping an 13-year-old girl on the grounds that she had consented to intercourse.
“I wonder what these judges would say for that decision if N.Ç. was their own daughter,” Bozdağ said, referring to the victim, who is now 21. “This decision has disturbed the nation and, as a jurist, disturbed me as well,” Bozdağ said during a meeting with members of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the central Anatolian province of Yozgat.
Critics of the court's decision are now asking if the ruling is indicative of a systemic problem in Turkey's judiciary, particularly when it comes to cases of violence against women. From Hurriyet:
While politicians from all parties criticized the law in the case, what Turkey really needs are not legal amendments, but a change in the male-dominated judicial system that interprets that law, according to prominent lawyers.
“Amending the law will not change the result now,” lawyer and women’s rights activist Hülya Gülbahar told the Hürriyet Daly News. “There are gaps in the laws that are open to interpretation.
The judges in this case all agreed that a 13-year-old consented to having sex with 26 men and ignored that it was done via threats. How could they interpret her fear as consent?” she said....
....Although many people, including President Abdullah Gül, have said the court decision violated public sensitivities, some lawyers said the ruling actually reflected the male-dominated perspective of the Turkish judicial system.
“This case is not the only one. Many similar rape cases in which the victims are younger than 15 result in low sentences because the judges rule that the [girls] consented. A child at that age cannot even comprehend the meaning and consequences of such an act,” lawyer Fırat Söyle told the Hürriyet Daily News earlier this week.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer and Today's Zaman columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz has written a strong piece further taking the judiciary to task for the decision and the legal thinking that lies behind it. From his column:
When it comes to the physical and psychological integrity of a person, Turkish law is terrible. If, for example, you were attacked and were beaten severely, unless you lost an organ or endure a permanent physical handicap, your attacker would just receive a few months prison sentence, and most probably his prison sentence would be postponed.
However, if the same attacker just takes your glasses, or your pen or any other thing you are carrying on you by force, he would receive at least a prison sentence of 15 or 16 years, since in this case, the crime concerned will be qualified as usurp (gasp).
As you see protecting property is much more valuable than protecting the physical integrity of a person in the Turkish legal system.
If these pedophiles had taken this girl’s teddy bear by force, they would have received a 15 year prison sentence. But these men have just received a prison sentence of a few years for stealing her life permanently.
The law is wrong, the mentality is wrong. Everything is wrong here.