Saturday, July 26, 2008

Getting Serious About Sexual Harassment (Hopefully)

From BIA-Net:
Following the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Justice and Development Party (AKP) introduced a bill that will make “sexual harassment” a crime not requiring a complaint.

The bill envisions a doubling of the prison sentence for the crime.

Sexual Harassment at New Year celebration
DTP deputy Hasip Kaplan’s proposal on January 8 is still waiting at the Justice Commission. Kaplan had made this proposal in protest to the releasing of those responsible for the sexual harassment incident at the New Years celebration with meager 57 YTL (about 3 Euro) fine.

The women activists who had started the Purple Needle activity right around this time had made a similar demand.

CHP deputy Canan Arıtman also made a similar proposal to the commission three days after the incident. Like AKP’s proposal, both of these proposals envision changes in article 105 of the Turkish Penal Code.

MHP’s proposal
In June, four MHP deputies made a proposal to have the punishments for the crimes defined under article 102, titled “sexual attack”, and article 103, titled “sexual exploitation of children,” increased.

MHP deputies’ reason was that there was an increase in these crimes and the punishments were not deterrent.

Complaint is necessary
According to article 105:

- A person who sexually harasses someone else will receive a prison sentence of three months to two years or fined, if the victim complains.

- If these crimes are committed at the work place by using one’s status, the above punishment will be doubled. If the victim had to leave the job because of this crime then the punishment cannot be less than a year.

According to the report regarding DTP’s proposal of daily Hürriyet, all these proposals will be combined when they are taken up in the commission. (EÜ/TB)
For more on the Purple Needle campaign, see Bianet's coverage in January. Laws regarding sexual harassment were introduced in the re-drafted Turkish Penal Code passed in 2004 and thanks to the influnce of women's groups. It should also be noted that sexual harassment litigation as it is known in the United States and Europe does not exist in Turkey.

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