Turkey imposes heavier sentences for sexual abuse of children under 12

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The Turkish government has drafted a bill to increase sentences issued for the sexual abuse of children, introducing gradual punishments on offenses against children under 12, in line with a Constitutional Court demand that the government regulate legal measures to be imposed on convicts.

The move will end a months-long debate on the issue both in Turkey and between Ankara and a number of European capitals that have misinterpreted the Constitutional Court decision to annul an article of the Turkish Penal Code concerning sentences for those that sexually abuse children under the age of 15.

The high court also demanded that the government regulate offenses committed against children under the age of 12 within six months.

Some politicians in Europe had accused Turkey of allowing sexual abuse against children under the age of 15, sparking a diplomatic spat with Ankara.

With the draft bill, sentences to be given to convicts for crimes against children under the age of 12 will be increased. The minimum sentences to be meted out will be five years instead of three in prison for molestation; 10 years instead of eight for carnal abuse and 18 years instead of 16 for major sexual abuses.

“We are introducing a gradual punishment system on the basis of the age of the victim,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ told a group of Ankara bureau chiefs on Oct. 9. The draft bill is expected to be submitted to parliament either this or next week.

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