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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run the risk of opening the door to early marriages, which already has partial political support as evinced by the withdrawn amnesty bill.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
  55. İHD Ankara Şube Kadın Komisyonu / Women’s Commission of Human Rights Association, Ankara
  56. İlerici Kadın Derneği, Antalya
  57. İlerici Kadınlar Meclisi
  58. İstanbul Kadın Kuruluşları Birliği / Istanbul Women OrganizationsUnion
  59. İzmir Amargi
  60. İzmir Bağımsız Kadın İnisiyatifi / İzmir Independent Women’s Initiative
  61. İzmir Kadın Dayanışma Derneği / İzmir Women’s Solidarity Association
  62. İzmir Kadın Kuruluşları Birliği
  63. Kadav – Kadınlarla Dayanışma Vakfı / Women’s Solidarity Foundation
  64. Ka-Der – Kadın Adayları Destekleme Derneği / Association for Support of Women Candidates
  65. Ka-Der – Kadın Adayları Destekleme Derneği Ankara Şubesi / Association for Support of Women CandidatesAnkara
  66. Kadın Cinayetlerine Karşı Acil Önlem Grubu / Platform for Urgent Action Against Femicide
  67. Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu / We Will Stop Femicides Platform
  68. Kadın Çalışmaları Derneği / Association for Women’s Studies
  69. Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı / Women’s Solidarity Foundation
  70. Kadın Emeği ve İstihdamı Girişimi (KEİG) / Women’s Labor and Employment Initiative
  71. Kadın Emeği Derneği / Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work
  72. Kadın Emeği Kolektifi / Women’s Labor Collective
  73. Kadın Haklarını Koruma Derneği Genel Başkanlığı / Associationfor the Protection of Women Rights
  74. Kadın Koalisyonu / Women’s Coalition
  75. Kadın Özgürlük Meclisi / Women’s Freed Assembly
  76. Kadın Partisi / Women’s Party
  77. Kadın Yazarlar Derneği
  78. Kadının İnsan Hakları – Yeni Çözümler Derneği / Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – New Ways
  79. Kagider – Türkiye Kadın Girişimciler Derneği / Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey
  80. Kahdem – Kadınlara Hukuki Destek Merkezi
  81. Kampüs Cadıları / Campus Witches
  82. KAOS GL Derneği / KAOS GL Association
  83. Kapadokya Kadın Dayanışma Derneği / Kapadokya Women’s Solidarity Association
  84. Karadeniz Kadın Dayanışma Derneği / Karadeniz Women’s Solidarity Association
  85. Karya Kadın Derneği / Karya Women’s Association
  86. Kayseri Kadın Dayanışma Derneği / Kayseri Women’s Solidarity Association
  87. Kazdağlı Kadınlar / Women from Kazdağı
  88. Kazete Bağımsız Kadın Gazetesi / KAZETE Independent Women’s Newspaper
  89. Kazeteder – Kadın Erkek Eşitliği Derneği
  90. KEFA – Kadın Emeği Çalışan Feminist Araştırmacılar Grubu / Feminist Researchers Studying Women’s Labor KEFA
  91. KESK Kadın Meclisi / Confederation of Public Workers Union (KESK) Women’s Assembly
  92. Keskesor  LGBT
  93. Kırmızı Biber Derneği / Red Pepper Association
  94. Kırmızı Şemsiye Cinsel Sağlık ve İnsan Hakları Derneği / Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association
  95. Kocaeli Kadın Platformu / Kocaeli Women’s Platform
  96. Koza Kadın Derneği  / Koza Women’s Association
  97. Lambda İstanbul / Lambdaİstanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association
  98. Lezbiyen Biseksüel Feministler  / Lesbian Bisexual Feminists
  99. Mardin Ortak Kadın ve İşbirliği Derneği Marmara Grubu Vakfı
  100. Menteşe Kent Konseyi Kadın Meclisi
  101. Mersin 7 Renk LGBT Derneği
  102. Mor Çatı Kadın Sığınağı Vakfı / Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation
  103. Mor Çetele
  104. Mor Dayanışma / Purple Association for Women’s Solidarity
  105. Mor Pusula
  106. Mor Salkım Kadın Dayanışma Derneği
  107. Muğla Emek Benim Kadın Derneği
  108. Muğla Kadın Dayanışma Grubu / Muğla Women’s Solidarity Association
  109. Özgür Genç Kadın
  110. Özgür Renkler Derneği
  111. Pembe Hayat LGBTT Derneği / Pink Life LGBTT Association
  112. Samandağ Kadın Dayanışma Derneği
  113. SODA – Sosyal Dayanışma Ağı
  114. Sosyalist Kadın Meclisleri
  115. SPOD – Sosyal Politikalar Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği / Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Works Association
  116. Şiddetsizlik Merkezi’nden Kadınlar / Women from Nonviolent Education and Research Association
  117. TMMOB İstanbul Kadın Komisyon / Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects Istanbul Women’s Commission
  118. TODAP – Toplumsal Dayanışma İçin Psikologlar Derneği Kadın Komisyonu / Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation
  119. Toplumcu Kadın Psikologlar
  120. Trabzon Demokratik Kadın Platformu
  121. TTB Kadın Hekimlik Kadın ve Sağlığı Kolu / Turkish Medical Association Women Medicine and Woman and Health Branch
  122. Türk Kadınlar Birliği / Turkish Women’s Union
  123. Türk Kadınlar Konseyi / National Council of Turkish Women
  124. Türk Üniversiteli Kadınlar Derneği / Turkish Association of University Women
  125. Türkiye Aile Sağlığı ve Planlaması Vakfı / Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation
  126. Türkiye Kadın Dernekleri Federasyonu / Federation of Women’s Associations of Turkey
  127. Türkiye Soroptimist Kulüpleri Federasyonu
  128. Uçan Süpürge Kadın İletişim ve Araştırma Derneği / Flying Broom Communication and Research Association
  129. Ulusötesi Kadın Konuları Merkezi Derneği / Center for Transnational Women’s Issues
  130. Üniversiteli Kadın Kolektifi / Women from University Collective
  131. Yaşam Evi Kadın Dayanışma Derneği
  132. Yeni Demokrat Kadın
  133. Yeryüzü Kadınları
  134. Yeşil Feministler
  135. Yoğurtçu Kadın Forumu
  136. 17+ Alevi Kadınlar
  137. 5 Harfliler

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