Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sex, the State, and Discrimination Against Women and Children

The sentencing of a 16-year old girl for the rape of a 13-year old boy after the two children engaged in a sexual relationship that resulted in the girl's pregnancy raises important questions about children's rights in Turkey and discrimination against women and children. Despite significant revisions to the Penal Code in 2004, sexual relations between children aged 15 to 18 years is still a crime and children can be treated as adults in judicial proceedings. This is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, to which Turkey is a state-party. Under the convention, all children under 18 should be considered as such under Turkish law. In addition to the judicial proceedings against the 16-year old child, criticism also includes coverage of the case by the Turkish media. From BIA-Net:
Acting irresponsibly, the media turns a sexual relation between two children into a rape by a woman of a boy.

Radikal: Prison sentence for the woman who raped a man.

Star: A woman was sentenced for raping a man

Akşam: First time in Turkey, a woman is sentenced for raping.

The media reality: What do you understand from these headlines? The newspapers attached importance to the fact that a woman was sentenced for the crime of rape. They sound like they are happy about this “first”. The judiciary must have made an important decision.

The reality: Two kids of ages 13 and 16 had a sexual relationship. The girl got pregnant. When the parents of the boy, who is younger than the girl, made a complaint, the Court of Boyabat sentenced the girl for the crime for the sexual exploitation of children. The case is appealed.

The news of the reality: The judiciary violated the children rights. Those for defending rights had objected in 2005 to the age discriminations in the new penal code and said that this would cause problems. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, everyone under eighteen is a child. The experts had emphasized that even the games that help form the sexual identities of the children were considered as crime in the new penal code.

Most recently, the topic was brought to the attention of the public when a German boy was arrested in Antalya for sexually harassing an English girl was taken to the court. Seda Akça, a lawyer and a defender of rights, had stated that sexual relations between hildren should not have included in the penal code. These children need to be taken out of the penal system, to be supported and protected.

The justice system discriminate. The court stated in the justification of its decision that hiding the pregnancy was indicative of guilty psychology. In other words, she had to be guilty since she hid her pregnancy.

The news of the media reality: The media is a rights violator. Even though the names of the children were not printed, the name of the school they went was published and therefore their identities were revealed. This is against the media law. This news was aired by Ankara News Agency.

The media is male-dominated and ignorant of the children rights. According to them, children become man and woman when they are in a sexual relation. The “rapist” girl was made a woman and the boy a “raped boy”. In fact, in some newspapers, it was a woman who raped a boy.

Conclusion: It is the responsibility of the journalists and the judiciary personnel to learn about the children rights, to be able to approach these issues from the perspective of the children and to implement these principles.

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