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Women Are Against Virginity Tests in Turkish Penal Code (TCK)

Posted: Wednesday, September 08, 2004 at 08:33 PM CT

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Women are angry at the Supreme Court of Appeals, which overturned the decision on Yaman Ozcelik, who raped 12 girls under the age of 15 and attempted to rape three others. The court overturned the decision noting, "it could not be proven that two of the girls lost their virginity."

"Rape is not just taking someone's virginity," said the women and demanded that virginity tests are completely abolished in the new TCK (Turkish Penal Code).

Mujde Bilgutay from the Women's Human Rights Project New Solutions Foundation, Esin Bozoglu from the Balikesir branch of Supporting and Educating Women Candidates (KADER), Tulin Ozler from the Aegean Women's Solidarity Foundation (EKDAV) and Fatma Kaya from the Adana Local Agenda 21 Towns Council Women's Solidarity Center spoke to bianet about the issue.

"The TCK draft should change"

According to Bilgutay, the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals is a product of the "male-dominated viewpoint", also present in the new TCK draft. The following are the issues which the "TCK Women's Platform and Platform Against Violence" will launch a campaign on:

  • the article on killing a qualified person now also includes the "tradition" killings. But, the term "tradition" does not always include honor killings.
  • In the new TCK law, it will be up to the judges and prosecutors to decide whether a virginity test is necessary or not. It is considered a crime to make someone take a virginity test, but it is not a crime to conduct the test itself.
  • The article on having a sexual relationship with non-adults will include punishing up to two years in prison of persons having sex with someone of age 15-18, even with their consent.
  • It is not considered a crime to discriminate against homosexuals. The article on obscenity brings about heavy punishments without clearly defining the term "obscenity."

Bilgutay: They look at women's bodies as commodities that belong to men

Bigultay gave the example of a person charged with honor killing in the province of Urfa being sentenced to 136 years in prison. The family had also encouraged that murder, she said, adding that open-minded judges make the right decisions even under the current TCK.

"Forcing a girl, who has been raped, to take a virginity test would put her through yet another trauma," said Bigultay.

She reminded that the TCK defines rape as "inserting any organ or object anally, orally or into any part of the body without that person's consent." "It should not affect the punishment whether the person lost her virginity or not, or whether the victim is a virgin. But still, the law allows virginity tests."

Bozoglu: The male-dominated mentality views being woman a crime

"The girls say they were raped, and the defendant confesses to his crime. What difference would it make if the girls are still virgins?" asked Esin Bozoglu from the Balikesir branch of KADER

Bozoglu said they had brought to the parliament's attention women's views, criticisms and proposals on the TCK. But the lawmakers do not see women and men as equals, she added. "We can change the articles but not the mentality. And every article that has been changed is regarded as a huge favor to women."

"Those who make women take virginity tests should be punished"

Tulin Ozler from EKDAV and Fatma Kaya from the Adana Local Agenda 21 Women's Solidarity Center said every attempt on a girl's or woman's body without her consent is against equality between men and women.

"We are against virginity tests in Turkey or anywhere else in the world," said Ozler.

Kaya said virginity tests could cause women go through new traumas. "We want virginity tests to be clearly outlawed and we want those who make women take these tests and those who conduct the tests to be punished," she said.

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