The bill proposed to the Turkish Parliament on 17 November seeks to suspend and thus to pardon crimes of sexual harassment against under-aged children perpetrated prior to 16 November 2016 if the perpetrator marries the victim. Although the bill was withdrawn on 22 November, many fear it will be re-introduced. In addition to this bill, there are discussions to lower the age of consent for sexual intercourse to 12 by amending Article No. 103 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) despite sustained objections of women’s organisations. If the Article No.103 passes into law, the majority of the perpetrators who are currently on trial or will be on trial as convicts of sexual abuse will have the right to assert that “the child gave consent” and avoid punishment.
Through its representatives at the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Women’s Lobby, Soroptimist International of Europe is a highly committed advocate for all issues related to women and girls. Although we are constitutionally bound to remain neutral on political matters, this proposed legislation would seriously undermine women’s and girl’s rights and therefore justifies our organisation taking a public stance.
Maria Elisabetta de Franciscis - SIE President 2015-2017