“Child Abuse: The proposal to have the victim of sexual abuse to be married to her rapist should be repealed- Sign the campaign,” said the message that beeped on my phone. It was from a group of Turkish mothers living in Italy. One of them explained: She had called the ministry in Ankara and had reached someone responsible. This person explained to her that the bill was for women who were married with the consent of their parents, had a child from the men they married, but who were now aggrieved because their husbands were in jail. That is, this was mainly a wish coming from the women themselves, that about 3000 such women had written to the president, the proposal had sprung up from those letters.
Still unconvinced, someone else from the group wrote “There has to be 300.000 signatures against the 300.”
She had left a zero out from the original number of 3000. It must be an expression of her subconscious to overpower and crush those she sees as others.
“Let there be 300,000 signatures of 'buttocks dry' women against 3000 suffering women!”
I said to myself. Sorry about the expression but that's how I feel describes the situation best. Women who are not involved personally and do not suffer the consequences of a specific law in their own lives talk on behalf of those living with the consequences. They want to dictate, have a say over the lives of others.
However, since I didn't know the details, I didn't say anything in the group. That didn't sound like neither child abuse nor legitimizing rape to me, but the wording is crucial in such matters. Thus, it's wise not to speak up before knowing the exact proposal in full.
Then I saw the proposal. Politik Baykus (Political Owl) tweeted:
“Nobody should be married to their rapist apart from the parliament members who have their signatures on this bill !”
The photo of the proposal with the signatures of the parliamentary members was attached to the tweet:
“On the crime of sexual assault committed without any force, threat, trickery or any other reason affecting free-will before 16/11/2016, in the case of the victim and the perpetrator/offender party getting married...” the proposed bill said and went on:
“without going into the related article in the Code of Penal/Criminal Procedure, the final verdict will be left open, and in case a verdict has been reached, its execution will be postponed. If the marriage ends due to the fault of the perpetrator, during the period of limitation, the decree will be issued or the penalty is carried out.”
Sorry but who is this Political Owl?
And why can't people use their brains a bit? God gave us a brain. What kind of a sick mind is it to interpret this proposal as being forced to marry one's rapist?
In the Guardian article “Fury at Turkish bill to clear men of child sex assault if they marry victims” it is questioned that a minor will be able to give consent.
Don't these people have any 14-15 year-olds around them? Or has it been so long that they have completely forgotten their teenage years? The 14-15 year-olds I know look and are completely capable of giving consent.
“Turkish women protest against a bill which would pardon some people imprisoned for statutory rape,” reads the caption under the photo in the article.
You know what “statutory rape” is? I didn't know it. So I looked it up. It says “(in some jurisdictions) sexual intercourse with a minor”
But what is a minor? How is it defined? A 17 year-old girl is a minor, thus a child in the eyes of the law. She turns 18, only then is she considered an adult. But seriously... Can anybody tell me why 18 is the magical number? Why not 15 or 16? 16 seems a perfectly reasonable age to be the age of consent to me. In fact, in my humble opinion, if an adulthood definition has to be made, that would be the onset of menstruation. It's at least a specific date defined by a specific event varying with the maturity of every individual.
“A bill in Turkey that would overturn men’s convictions for child sex assault if they married their victim has provoked fury, with critics accusing the government of encouraging rape of minors with the proposals.”
First of all... People who claim such a law would be encouraging imply that “now, if a man marries the minor he has had intercourse with, he will be pardoned.” (I'm deliberately not using the word rape here as rape and statutory rape are two completely separate things.) However, the bill has a date, it is not for the future, it only covers cases up to that date. So it cannot be said there is any encouragement whatsoever. Those who say it is encouraging are only irrational, non-thinking reactionaries. Those who react to whatever the current government does regardless of what it is that they propose to do.
The only problem here would be, of course, putting such a date would violate the equality principle of the constitution. What's the fault of others who get married after the said date? With this frame, the government could have simply issued a pardon to solve the existing problems. I have no idea why they chose to do it this way, if there is a legal logic behind it.
“But the government insisted the legislation was aimed at dealing with the widespread custom of child marriages and the criticism was a crude distortion of its aim.”
I'm sorry, I may not approve of many things the government does; but I totally agree this is a crude distortion of the bill's aim. It is a fact that “child” marriages happen. But who is a “child”? And again, why is a 17 year and 364 day old considered a child? The only answer is “Just because the law says so,” and my thinking mind cannot take that as an answer.
I understand, there has to be a date. If the age of consent was 15-16, the same would go. But at least that would be a more “logical” and “natural” age given the maturity of our bodies and sexual instincts. Or, as I said, put that as the onset of menstruation, no need for such a question “What's the difference the day before?” The answer would be simple: “The day before, the girl was a child, she couldn't have a child.”
Of course I know there can be arguments like “These girls are children themselves, and they have children.”
Then again... Y/Our concept of a girl being “a child” does not make them a child. If there is a discrepancy, our concepts should be adjusted to the way nature works, not vice versa. If we have a problem with that, the point would be to raise girls so that they would be mature enough in our social standards as well as nature's standards.
“If passed, the law would allow the release from prison of men guilty of assaulting a minor if the act was committed without “force, threat, or any other restriction on consent” and if the aggressor “marries the victim”.
See? That's the important part here. If the act was committed without “force, threat, or any other restriction on consent...”
In fact, the bill mentions trickery as well. So we are not talking about rape in the real sense of rape here: A forceful action against the will of the female. They're only talking about rape “defined by law.”
"The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18 but child marriage is widespread, especially in the southeast.
Dozens protested against the bill in central Istanbul, tearing up copies of the proposed legislation and brandishing slogans like “rape is a crime against humanity”.
Good that they protested! Tearing up copies of the proposed legislation. Sure... Rape is a crime against humanity. Like any other use of force against the will of any other human being...
“Until she is 18, a child remains a child, that is why this has to be condemned,” said protester Fadik Temizyurek.
Why are we faced with the stupid remark of this protester? She has no capability at logic. You cannot reach a conclusion when the first part of your reasoning is questionable. Adolescents are not children. Period! Why should a child remain a child until she is 18? Why? Just give me one good reason, a reason that does not refer to the law, thus does not refer to authority. You cannot. Nobody can. You may argue that one needs to go to school etc. But those are all your convictions. Why is it better for women to be a part of the cogwheel of capitalism than their being wives and mothers? Why?
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with higher educated and working women. But anyone saying “females under 18 are children and cannot get married” is enforcing their world view on others. This is being elitist. This is thinking you are superior to others and those “poor” and “backwards” people should adopt to your ways, they should take you as an example.
Make no mistake... I see myself smarter than most others. I believe people should do the things I think they should, behave the way I believe is right. The only difference is that I do not see myself in any position to impose those views. Whereas obviously some others do. They want to outnumber the women in the campaign with their signatures so that they can impose their rights and wrongs on others.
"The bill was brought to parliament by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)."
Ah, see? Now we are talking. This is the most important point. It's AKP who proposed the bill. We need to oppose whatever they say. They are the bad ones, they are the monsters.
This is not even about trying to stick to the status quo, this is about an irrational reaction to anything a certain party does. Unless we learn to differentiate between ideas and people, unless we learn to criticize ideas, not make ad-hominem attacks, we will never progress.
“The AKP is pushing through a text which pardons those who marry the child that they raped,” said an MP for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ozgur Ozel.
You know what is totally wrong with such a statement “those who marry the child that they raped”? It assumes that marriage is a one-person thing. It just overlooks the fact that the woman (or the girl) needs to accept and say “yes” to the marriage. I know, with such traditions and moral values, a girl (or a woman) does not have much choice but to get married. However, that is a completely different story, that is the main story that needs to be tackled, not this law! The social pressure and stigma around female sexual acts need to be brutally attacked. That should be the target of everybody's anger, not this proposal.
Prominent actor Nurgül Yeşilçay tweeted that “what we are talking about is not being a woman in this country, or being a man, but staying a human being”.
Aaah, ah... How horrifying! We cannot even stay a human being under such conditions! Drama queens. By the way, Nurgül Yeşilçay is an actress, not an actor.
And Tarkan, a famous Turkish singer with about 3 million followers on Twitter, wrote a post on how he is so upset. He states that to him it's clear that there cannot be sexual abuse without force, threat, or trickery. Thing is... The law doesn't think so! If two 17 year-olds in love engage in sexual intercourse, or if a 19 year-old boy has sex with his 17 year-old girlfriend, the government gets into their bedroom and declares the boy/man a “criminal”, or worse yet, a “to-be-imprisoned criminal”. Tarkan goes on to say this proposal is a nightmare he longs to wake up from but can't. The nightmare I long to wake up from but can't is the extent of government interference into personal lives.
"On Twitter, the hashtag TecavuzMesrulastirilamaz (Rape Cannot be Legitimised) became a top-trending topic as users took to social media to express their anger."
As if anybody is legitimizing rape! First, they have illegitimized sexual intercourse they did not see appropriate, that is fine. They even criminalized intercourse of those below 18, nothing wrong there. But they cannot go back on an unreasonable thing and legitimize a certain part under certain conditions, that's a crime. I'm sorry, how tiny brains do these people have?
Can “minors according to the law” have sexual intercourse? Sure they can. Is it natural for “minors according to the law”, that is under 18s to have sex? Sure it is natural. BUT... it is illegitimate! We, as a society have deemed it illegitimate and made it into the law. Now these people are trying to loosen up that illegitimacy, how dare!
If obviously nature gives 14 year olds a sexual drive and girls can in fact have children at that age, I say our current society, our school system and enforcements are crooked.
"A petition on change.org urging the authorities to block the legislation has received over 600,000 signatures."
Goood, goooood... Democracy is the tyranny of large numbers, right? Let's get large numbers. It's us against them. Right now they have the large numbers and the power, so we should get the upper hand and suppress them.
This is no way to live together. This is an imposition of one will over the other. And peace cannot be achieved when there is an imposition of someone else's will on another. Unfortunately, that seems the way the world works.
"The pro-government Women’s and Democracy Association (Kadem), whose deputy chairman is Erdoğan’s younger daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar, said one of the biggest problems of the bill would be proving what constituted force or consent.
“How can the ‘own will’ of such a young girl be identified?” it asked. “We would like to draw attention to issues that might arise in case of it coming into force.”
What constitutes force or consent is easy to specify. It's what the girl/woman in question defines. “The own will of such a young girl...” I don't think there is much difference when it comes to one's own will be it a young or an old girl. We are all affected to a certain extent by the society we live in, thus I'd say even many 50 year-olds have problems in distinguishing between their own will and the will and expectations of the people around them.
"The prime minister Binali Yıldırım said the measure would only be applied once on past convictions, applying to offences committed before 11 November, 2016.
“There are people who get married before reaching the legal age. They just don’t know the law,” he told reporters in Ankara, adding that the measure aims to “get rid of this injustice”.
He said claims that the law would de facto legalise rape were “completely false”, noting that the government had raised penalties for the crime, accusing the CHP of exploiting the issue for political gain.
The justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, said marriages involving minors were “unfortunately a reality” in Turkey but the men involved “were not rapists or sexual aggressors”.
He said the measure would affect some 3,000 families."
What the prime minister Binali Yıldırım said is totally correct in light of the proposal. What the justice minister Bekir Bozdağ said is totally correct too. A 17 year-old girl can run away with the 21 year-old boy she loves. Have you never heard of such stories? How would this make the man a rapist or a sexual aggressor? Just because of the age of the girl??... I'm sorry, that doesn't make sense. It doesn't make any sense at all!
"The latest controversy comes after Turkey’s constitutional court in July annulled a criminal code provision punishing as “sexual abuse” all sexual acts involving children under the age of 15.
Defenders of that law argued it made a distinction between cases of sexual acts involving a young teenager as opposed to a much younger child."
Sorry but again... What's wrong or strange to make a distinction between sexual acts above 15 at which age all girls have reached puberty? This makes complete sense to me. If you are talking about a sexual act below 14-15, there is definitely and seriously something wrong. But above that age, you have to admit, a girl is definitely capable of giving consent.
"Campaigners accuse the government of not doing enough to stamp out the practice and of being more interested in pushing up the birth rate."
Sure, these accusations may be true. But this has nothing to do with the bill which is said to concern those that have married the boy they ran away with, had children together and the men are now facing jailtime, leaving the women alone.
After I wrote all these things, I realized a more important point when I was reading a true story and the girl got pregnant at 14. This was America. You know the US has a problem with teenage pregnancies. It is the same in Africa and Asia. Same with the UK. Why, why is there the same problem all around the world? Because it's so human.
I remember my feelings when I was an adolescent and I remember it so well how I was forced/coerced to suppress them. People have started considering the natural a bad thing. Society is so out of its mind now that the norm is for women to have a career, postpone childbirth until late 30s when they can have a secure place, freeze their eggs and then spend tens of thousands of dollars for an IVF treatment making tens of trips to doctors' offices and clinics. And this is okay, this is something we have no problem with. This, nobody campaigns against. In Turkey I mean.
If, as women, our choice is between getting married at adolescence and having a child or suppressing our sexuality at the moment it is at its top, suppressing our bodies' natural desires and then trying to beat nature by artificial methods, I'm sorry but my choice would be the former. I believe my choice is so because I lived the latter scenario and have come not to like it. I mean I didn't go for IVF, but I suppressed all my sexuality for fear of pregnancy, I had an abortion at 31 just because of the social stigma and it is not something I am proud of or happy about. But I accept that those were my conditions then and I did what I felt I should do.
Of course, there is a middle ground. One doesn't have to have a family at a young age or wait until 40. I have no complaints about being an aged mother. I am more mature and have done what I have wished to have done. However, I wasn't feeling or thinking this way when I had my first daughter, Lavinia. I know of many women who feel a grudge against their children, not that they do not love their children mind you, it's just that they feel the child has been an obstacle to their careers. I confess, I was feeling the same thing with Lavinia. I wanted to write this book about my second round-the-world tour and I wasn't going to be able to do that with her around now. It took me the death of my baby to realize that nothing can be more important than a small creature and all else can wait. (Perhaps that's why I'm in no rush to finish those books. All the skeleton is there. But I put them aside and am after another goal I have set for myself.)
This is a shame of our society, the blame falls on all of our shoulders: Making women like me feel bad about being mothers. Or putting such a pressure on us that a singer writes a song with lyrics “I make a child and I make a career too.” What for? Why do we have to be these super-creatures? Why cannot we be satisfied with what is in our natures?
Or more importantly, we of course have the right to be unsatisfied with anything related to our lives, but why can't we accept that there may be women who are content with being “only” wives and mothers?
Full and Informed Consent: A Big Expression in a Gray Area
"Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s deputy Europe director, said the parliament bill risks sending “the wrong message and could lead to further abuse”.
“It is impossible … to guarantee that there was in fact full and informed consent of the girl, not just of her family,” she said.
Risking sending the wrong message... Well... You may send wrong messages with any bill; people interpret things the way they wish, they twist your logic to suit their desires and opinions. That's the way it is with us humans.
As for the impossibility of guaranteeing that there was in fact full and informed consent of the girl, not just of her family... The same goes for a female who has reached the age of full legal responsibility. It's impossible to guarantee that there is in fact full and informed consent of a girl marrying in those parts of the country. Your conditions define your choices. If you really care about women, you should advocate the empowering of women, not treat them as inferior beings incapable of knowing their desires. Unfortunately, empowerment usually comes with economic means in our world. So those who claim to care about women's rights should campaign for UBI (Universal Basic Income). At least women should be given a UBI in every country. Let men tend for themselves.
By the way, don't for a moment think that this full and informed consent is limited to the eastern parts and/or to the uneducated women. I'm not sure I had in fact full and informed consent when I got married at 26. I wasn't forced into the marriage of course, but I was driven into it. I wanted to move out of the family house. When I announced this decision, my grandmother declared “You cannot move out of the house without getting married.” Could I still have done it? Sure, I could have. But moving out on my own, standing on my own feet with an assistant's salary was going to be hard enough, I didn't want to face the burden of conflict and heart-wrenching friction with the family on top of that. So what did I do? I went to my boyfriend at the time and said “Are we getting married? If not, I'm going to go get married to somebody else.” Sure, I know how stupid it sounds right now! But obviously at the time, that felt like the thing to do. And please don't for a moment think that other people make informed decisions all the time and there is no infantile behavior around! The important thing here is the question: Would my brother have got the same reaction from my grandmother if he wanted to move out? No. That's societal pressure. When I announced my father that I was getting married, what did he ask me? Did he ask me if I loved the guy, if I was sure that was what I wanted to do? No. “Are you pregnant?” That's what he asked me. I wasn't. But I could have been. I mean I couldn't have been technically. I was a virgin. But hypothetically and theoretically, I could have been. So what? That's societal pressure. Mind you, my family is a university educated family from İstanbul. If you care about women's rights and empowerment, advocate the removal of any societal pressure on women to get married. Remove the shame involved in getting pregnant out of wedlock.
Plus... Do you know how many women remain in marriages that they have drawn their consent from long ago? I do not know but I can guess: “A lot!” If you really truly care about women's rights and empowerment, advocate the removal of any stigma attached to being divorced. Advocate for UBI for women so that they can be independent of the men to leave them and be free to walk out of marriages they do not wish to be in.
If one truly cared about women and bettering their lives, I believe these would be the things they would be going after. Instead, we are stuck in the imposition of our values on others. We care about our ego being satisfied by having its say. It's having power over others.
I know I have digressed much from the topic. However, we are not talking about rape, the really criminal rape, but statutory rape; and that is a completely different thing, you cannot make arguments as if they are the same.
Rape is not a straight-forward topic. Rape is about force. But is it only physical force we care about? I'd say the main determining force regarding child marriages is not the physical force applied by men, but the constricting forces of one's means and the moral force of society.
I'm sure there are many married women out there who are being raped regularly. They didn't necessarily marry their rapists but rape has become a part of their story once they got married. But that is taken as a natural part of marriage life. And as long as the marriage is in line with society's norms and it stays within the four walls of a house, no problem.
Consent as well... It's not a straight-forward topic. Especially full and informed consent... How many of us really do know what we want? A sexual act involves so many factors. The desires, the expectations of three parties: the woman, the man, and the society. Then there is the possibility of pregnancy even if you take precaution, what comes afterwards... I remember... My body wanted to go ahead, then my mind stopped me. Okay but I am not alone in this. The man is a human being too. Sure, you may give consent to getting naked, you may consent to kissing and fondling, but that doesn't necessarily mean you give consent to penetration. But how is the man supposed to know this? Is he supposed to act like a machine and stop the moment you say stop? Because you may even consent to penetration and then change your mind.
Anything at that point and moment is human. On both sides...
I believe explicit consent in every aspect of our lives is a must. However, we live with unexplicit, assumed consent all the time. Even the ground for the foundation of our societies is based on an assumed consent called “social contract”. I have not given my consent to be ruled over and am not giving it. Yet, I am living with it. Anyway... Let me sum up:
Adolescents have their blood boiling. Their having sexual intercourse is just so natural and normal. I accept, there are serious consequences of teenage pregnancies and marriages. The answer is not in criminalizing sexual intercourse of teenagers, but in sexual education.
They say #RapeCannotBeLegitimized
I say #SexualIntercourseOfAdolescentsCannotBeIllegitimized #AdolescentsAreNotChildren
If all this uproar is about older men having intercourse with and marrying young girls, I say refer to the above highlighted suggestions. Yes, young girls being married to old men... That's what comes to everybody's mind, the reaction is to that. If so, I propose “Let there be a limitation to the age difference in marriage.” What would you say?
The first thing that came to my mind when I said this was: “But then models who are after the money of rich and old men cannot get married either.” What should the age difference limit be? There is such a thing for adoption. Does Trump and his wife make it?
I believe such a proposal for a limitation of the age difference would bring much uproar among the “modern” societies with a high-income level, as being too much of an intervention in private life. On the other hand, when it comes to the “poor” girls in the Southeast being married, it doesn't trigger an uproar but an applause. The elites would whole-heartedly support such a bill in the name of protecting “backwards” people.
If you really truly care about women's rights, advocate the removal of any societal pressure or stigma attached to a woman's sexual behavior or marital status, basically GET your judgements OUT OF WOMEN'S BEDS! Stop treating women as if they are inferior, give them the economic means with campaigning for UBI so that they can stand up on their own feet and are empowered.
PS: At the risk of being stoned, (luckily nobody reads my long posts ;)- I will state another controversial thought. Binali Yıldırım was saying “We say we solve problems, we don't leave them to our grandchildren to solve.” Such a nice discourse. He went on “We came up with a bill to solve the problem of child-marriages, and we encountered such an uproar.”
Seeing these, I really feel for the current government whose actions seem too harsh, despotic and against freedoms. I understand the frustration they must face.
What would you do if every time you wanted to do something well-meaning, in good-faith and good for your family/household and somebody in your apartment protested and made a scene, how would you deal with such a person? It is extremely tiring and time-consuming to try to persuade such people who do not listen to logic, who give emotional reactions. Carlo keeps defending/claiming you cannot do what AKP does in democracies, you need to listen to the minorities, to the other part of society who have different ideas than yours and find a way to satisfy them. I understand, I understand that very well. And I agree. That's what needs to be done. Theoretically! When it comes to practice, you would be just stuck where you are trying to get consensus, and you wouldn't be able to do anything but spend all your time and energies trying to get consensus. Believe me, I have tried. It doesn't work. On a personal level, I can break free from such acquaintances/relations in my life. If you are in politics, you either throw in the towel, which is what I personally would have done, I would have said “You take care of yourself” and walked out. I respect those that do not throw in the towel. Even though it might be the love of a seat, it doesn't matter. They symbolize something I cannot do and something I see as strength.
PPS: Similarly, there was another uproar last when Davutoğlu, a previous Prime Minister, said they'd be turning Sur, Diyarbakır into Toledo. My full comment is here. For those who are not interested, I'd like to repeat the last sentences here:
John Paul II has said “We should be talking about not what divides us, but what unites us.”
Unfortunately, that's very much missing in Turkey and all around the world.
And we should be looking for solutions to everybody's problems, not beating well-meaning initiatives.