Since many in Turkey are Muslims and Islam says it's okay to have sex with children, will these Muslims be arrested, put in prison, and on a sex offender registry for life?
A commission of Cabinet members has just completed a new proposal to toughen punishments for sex crimes, news reports said on Wednesday.
According to reports, if the proposal is adopted, the age of consent will be raised from 15 to 18 in statutory rape trials; the minimum sentence for the crime of sexually abusing a minor will be set at 15 years; DNA samples will be collected from registered sex offenders and pedophiles and placed in a bank to easily identify perpetrators in repeat offenses; prosecutors will be able to bring sex crime charges against suspects without an official complaint from the victim; and even if a victim withdraws his or her complaint, the trial will continue. Under current legislation, these cases are dropped when victims withdraw their complaints.
The commission that drafted the proposal is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ. Other members include Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin.
Sources say Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally requested harsher punishments for sex offenders. The proposal is likely to be taken up as priority legislation when Parliament opens in October this year. Most of the drafting was done by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, reports say.
Several recent cases in the cities of Siirt and Bingöl involving the rape of minors repeatedly by many individuals -- including local officials and members of security forces, in some cases -- have caused outrage in Turkey. Courts have had to let some suspects in the cases go due to legal restrictions. Women's and children's rights groups have long been calling for tougher legislation on sex crimes. However, as the content of the draft has not yet been made public, the opinion of civil society is not yet clear.