18,500 suspects convicted of sex offences in Turkey

A total of 18,492 people are currently in jail in Turkey after being convicted of sex offences, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül has said, according to a report by the Hürriyet Daily News.

Speaking in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, Gül said new “preventive and punitive” measures against child molesters are on the agenda of six ministries working on the issue collaboratively, adding that “currently, there are 18,492 convicts jailed for sex offences in Turkey.”

“We aim to prevent these incidents in the first place. We will do our best to overcome this issue by raising awareness about child abuse and sexual abuse,” Gül said.

Sexual abuse and pedophilia have recently dominated headlines in Turkey following a series of cases reported in the media, including the rape of a four-and-a-half-year-old girl in the southern province of Adana in February.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have responded to the outrage by calling for legal changes stipulating harsher punishment for child abusers. AKP officials stated that harsh punishments would include “chemical castration,” igniting a new debate as castration is currently not allowed under Turkish legislation.

Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya said on Feb. 22 that chemical castration was aimed at “temporarily suppressing” the sexual drive, not permanently affecting it. Chemical castration, a procedure that involves using anaphrodisiac drugs to reduce sexual drive and performance, does not prevent a person from experiencing sexual urges forever. The drug is administered either by mouth or injection, with a frequency of between once a month and once every three months.

Meanwhile, an İstanbul court sentenced a man to three years, four months in jail for attacking a 21-year-old woman “for wearing shorts” on a bus. Prosecutors had demanded up to 11 years in prison for Ercan Kızılateş on charges of “provoking people to hatred and enmity,” “preventing the right to freedom of faith and thought” and “sexual assault,” the Habertürk daily reported on Sunday.

In its ruling the court stated that “no individual has the right to intervene in others’ preferences or clothing in a secular and social state of law,” taking into consideration the impact of the incident on other women’s lifestyles.

Outrage was sparked in Turkey in June 2017 after video footage emerged of university student Melisa Sağlam being attacked by Kızılateş as he was about to get off a minibus in İstanbul’s Pendik district. “Are you not ashamed to dress this way during Ramadan?” the suspect asked her before punching her.

Following the incident, Sağlam filed a legal complaint against her assailant, upon which he was detained three days later, on June 17. Kızılateş said he was “provoked” into staging the attack, the Birgün daily reported. “Women dressing this way affect one’s sensuality,” he reportedly said in his testimony. He was released pending trial, but a prosecutor objected to the ruling. The court then re-issued a warrant for his arrest, and Kızılateş was arrested pending trial in İstanbul.

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