Thousands of rapists in Turkey has avoided jail time by marrying their victims, according to officials from the country’s Supreme Court.
According to Mustafa Demirdağ, the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals department, which oversees sexual crimes in Turkey, an estimated 3,000 marriages have been registered.
Demirdağ was reported as giving several examples which included cases involving adults and children, some as young as five. He raised his concerns speaking to a parliamentary commission that was formed to investigate and prevent sexual crime.
One of the cases he reportedly spoke of described a girl that had been raped by three individuals. When one of the men married her the sentences for all three rapists were lifted.
He said: “That type of marriage is not acceptable. It is cruel to force someone to marry a person she does not want [to marry] and force her to spend the rest of her life with him.”
According to the Appeals department, offenders of similar crimes can receive sentences of 16 years and eight months in prison.
In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had failed to protect a victim of domestic violence. As a result Turkey passed new domestic violence legislation in 2012.
A nationwide protest was held in Turkey last year to highlight the issue of violence against women in the country, after three men were sentenced to life in prison for the murder and attempted rape of 20 year-old student Özgecan Aslan.
Germany passes “No means No” rape law
This week Germany’s government passed a new law clarifying that “No means No” in rape cases, even if the victim did not fight back.
Critics have criticised the move saying that Germany has long been behind other developed nations in terms of rape law. Marital rape in Germany became a criminal offence only in 1997.
The new law also includes groping as a sex crime and makes it easier to prosecute assaults committed by large group. It also makes it easier to deport migrants who commit sex offences.
The issue of sexual assaults on women was brought to light again after a number of attacks on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
The previous law, defined in Section 177 of the criminal code (in German), victims should have defended themselves for an act to constitute rape. Saying “No” was not sufficient to find the defendant guilty and no attempted to fine what constituted consent was needed.
According to Germany’s n-tv news website only one in 10 rapes are reported and of those, the conviction rate is only 10%.
A recent case to spark outrage across Germany involved two men who were acquitted of drugging and raping model Gina-Lisa Lohfink. Despite the men having uploaded a video of what took place, in which she is reportedly heard saying “Stop it, stop it” and “No” the men were cleared of wrongdoing and Lohfink was fined €24,000 (£21,000; $27,000) for falsely testifying. She has appealed against the charges.
Ukrainian journalist Nastya Melnychenko recently wrote a Facebook post sharing her own experiences of sexual harassment, which kicked off a campaign for women in Russia and Ukraine to share their own stories.
After the post went viral Melnychenko started the #IAmNotScaredToSpeak campaign (#яНеБоюсьСказати in Ukrainian; #яНеБоюсьСказать in Russian). The campaign is against the treatment of women as sexual objects and that victims should never feel guilty nor be blamed for sexual assaults.
She highlighted that in Russia and Ukraine rape victims find it difficult to talk about it due to a “don’t wash your dirty linen in public” culture.