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Legal experts express concern over new Turkish bill on sex crimes
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 06 Apr 2011 Wed 09:31 am

Legal experts express concern over new Turkish bill on sex crimes

 

Legal experts have expressed concern over a controversial government-sponsored bill that proposes medical measures to reduce the testosterone levels of convicted sexual offenders.

“The human body cannot be used as a tool to punish [an offender] because that is against human rights,” Yücel Sayman, former chairman of Istanbul Bar Association, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.

The bill, which proposes increased sentences for sexual offenses along with the medical measures – also known as chemical castration – was passed Monday by Parliament’s Justice Commission.

The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, plans to pass the bill before Parliament breaks on April 8 ahead of June elections. Party officials, however, admit that the bill might not be passed until after the general polls due to the legislature’s heavy schedule.  

Under the bill, those convicted of sexually abusing children or having sexual intercourse with minors under the age of 18 will undergo medical measures to chemically reduce their testosterone levels.

The bill and the controversial article reducing the offenders’ testosterone levels drew varied responses from experts.

“If you apply such measures now, then it means you may apply further measures in the future which would lead to the amputation of the offenders’ hands for stealing,” Sayman said.  

If the victim falls into a vegetative state or dies as a result of sexual attack or abuse, the offenders will be subject to aggravated life sentence, according to the bill.

For Sayman, however, punitive precautions and severe measures will not sufficiently deter people from committing sexual offenses.

“Problems can’t be solved via punitive measures only. A committee could be set up to monitor those who engage in sexual offenses on a regular basis,” he said.

“Moreover, sexual offenses also have social and psychological implications. Society usually looks at these people with prejudice. Social and psychological aspects should also be taken into consideration,” Sayman said.

Professor Ersi Abacı Kalfoğlu, Turkey’s first professor of forensic genetics and founder of the country’s first rape crisis center in Istanbul, said the practice would “feed the lynch culture” already present in the country.

The specialist also said if the sentences for rape offenders were too high, it could provoke those who commit such crimes to kill their victims.

“The draft law at the Parliament should be pulled back,” she said, arguing that it required feedback from related nongovernmental organizations and experts.

Kalfoğlu, who said it was improper to term the procedure “castration” since the effect would end with the cessation of treatment, noted that the medical measures could result in a number of side effects, such as enhanced breast tissue growth or bodily hair.

“Also, this is something that occurs in a person’s brain [not in an organ],” she said, emphasizing the need for psychological treatment alongside any medical treatment. “This treatment is practiced as a package in other countries.”

Bill doesn’t go far enough

Sociologist Ali Yaşar Sarıbay of Uludağ University, however, said the sentences outlined in the bill should be made even heavier.

“The sexual offenses should be punished with the heaviest penalty. The measures in the bill are not sufficient in this respect. There are those who even rape babies,” Sarıbay told the Daily News.

“These types of people can’t be reintegrated into society. Reducing their testosterone levels is not enough. Perhaps, they wouldn’t feel any sexual desire for objects after they are medically treated but they could perhaps make inappropriate comments,” Sarıbay said.

Raft of increased punishments

The prison sentence for those who violate one’s personal space with sexual behavior will increase from two to seven years to five to 10 years. If the offense was committed with “sudden and interrupted movements” the penalty could be reduced by “one-third.”

If the sexual offense was committed by inserting an object into the body of an adult, the punishment will be increased from seven to 12 years to 10 and 18 years. But if the offense is committed against a spouse, the investigation and prosecution will be subject to the complaint of the victim.

Those who sexually abuse a child will serve six to 15 years instead of the current three to eight years, the draft states. But if the sexual offense was committed by inserting an object into the body of a minor, the prison sentence will be raised to 12 to 20 years instead of the current eight to 15 years. 

Those who force a person of legal age into marriage will serve one to three years. If the person who was forced into marriage attempts to commit suicide or the person’s health worsens as a result of the coercion, the sentence will not be less than three years. If the person who was forced into marriage commits suicide, the sentence will not be less than seven years.


 

 

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