Turkish bar associations condemn bill seeking amnesty for child sexual offenders

Dozens of Turkish bar associations have released a statement blasting a bill seeking to provide amnesty to child sexual abuse offenders, Evrensel newspaper reported on Monday.

The statement was signed by 63 bar associations, condemning the bill that calls for the underage victims to be wed to the perpetrators who sexually abused them, it said.

The statement follows reported deliberations on the bill by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which seeks to pardon child sexual abusers if the age difference between the perpetrator and the victim falls within a certain range.

First brought to parliament for a vote in November of 2016, the change of law proposal, which fell short of passage by legislators, has recently found its way into Parliament again.

Reports of AKP deputies discussing during a Central Executive Board (MYK) earlier this month what they saw as an appropriate age gap for the pardon sparked concern among Turkey’s women’s rights groups and legal circles.

Any discussion on the appropriate age gap for pardoning the sexual abuser is “completely primitive, unlawful and unacceptable,” the statement said.

The statement went on to condemn acquittal rulings by the country’s Court of Cassation in cases where the offender claimed to have no knowledge of the victim’s age. 

Pointing out that children are not sexual objects, the statement said amnesty for child sexual offenders would override the interest of the child.

The bar associations would not allow for legal regulations to legitimise such crimes, the statement said.