Ruled Not By Law, But Judicial Whim

AKP touts Turkey as a law and order state. Lately, it’s been more concerned with imposing a certain kind of autocratic order. It has cracked down on critics and anyone stepping out of line of a narrowly defined set of conservative norms, arresting people left and right not on the basis of evidence, but rumor and denouncement, and sending police to harass people (eg students living off campus) about behavior that is not illegal, but disliked by the prudish, thin-skinned government. This free manipulation and massage of the law to fit personal and community whims gives license to judges and prosecutors to do the same. So no matter that laws regarding crimes against women and children have in recent years been improved, their implementation remains in the hands of officials who do not care what is in their law books, but only what is in their “hearts”.

Here is only the latest example (the category “women” on this blog is a repository for many more examples). A panel of judges in an Ankara court has released seven of 10 rapists pending trial because the two girls, aged 12 and 14,  they allegedly raped multiple times, in the judges’ words, looked older. One of the girls “looked like she had reached puberty”. And the expert psychologist at the trial decided that the girl exhibited “manipulative behavior.” And anyway, the defendants said the girls were “willing” and had lied about their ages.

Um, what is in the law books? A 12- or 14-year old girl cannot by law be “willing” to engage in sex. Her appearance and personality are irrelevant. When will the old “she asked for it” excuse be kicked out of court as mitigation for what is a violent crime against the body of a child? A law and order state bases order on law. It doesn’t base its law on the whims of communal prejudice.


One Response to “Ruled Not By Law, But Judicial Whim”

  1. I am so looking forward to reading the new chapters 9or post-mortem) in the rev. ed. of Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks!

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