Some 18,492 people are currently in jail after being convicted of sex offences in Turkey, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül has said.
Speaking in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, Gül said new “preventive and punitive” measures against child molesters are on the agenda of six ministries working on the issue collaboratively.
“Currently, there are 18,492 convicts jailed for sex offences in Turkey. Six ministries are working on preventive and punitive measures on this issue collaboratively,” he added.
“We aim to prevent these incidents in the first place. We will do our best to get over this issue by raising more awareness about child abuse and sexual abuse,” Gül said.
Sexual abuse and pedophilia has recently dominated headlines in Turkey, following a series of cases reported in the media, including the rape of a four-and-a-half-year-old girl in the southern province of Adana in February.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have responded to the outrage by calling for legal changes stipulating harsher punishments for child abusers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said on Feb. 20 that the “harshest penalties” would be applied in such cases going forward.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has also called for the heaviest punishment for child abuse cases.
“I said two weeks ago that [a CHP government] would introduce the harshest penalties for child abuse cases. The government has only today initiated work on this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
A commission of six ministers has been formed to work on the legislative package and held its first meeting on Feb. 22.
AKP officials stated that harsh punishments would include “chemical castration,” igniting new debate as castration is currently not in Turkish legislation.
Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya said on Feb. 22 that chemical castration was aimed at “temporarily suppressing” the sexual drive, not permanently affecting it.
Chemical castration, a procedure that involves using anaphrodisiac drugs to reduce sexual drive and performance, does not prevent a person from experiencing sexual urges forever. The drug is administered either by mouth or injection, with a frequency of between once a month and once every three months.
Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, and the United States are among the countries that use chemical castration as a punitive measure for sexual offences and pedophilia.