Mustafa Demirdag, head of the Supreme Court of Appeals department for addressing sexual crimes in the country, told Turkey’s parliament that rapists and other abusers are avoiding prosecution by marrying their victims.
"That type of marriage is not acceptable," Demirdag said, according to Turkish news website Milliyet. "It is cruel to force someone to marry a person she [does] not want [to marry] and force her to spend the rest of her life with him."
He claimed that roughly 3,000 abuser/victim marriages have been officially registered, and offered disturbing examples.
In one case, a girl was kidnapped and raped by three men. After one of the abusers married her, sentences for all three were lifted.
Demirdag suggested that, at times, Turkey’s sex laws can be too harsh. In particular, he described the case of a 15-year-old girl and her neighborhood boyfriend.
"She called the boy on the phone that night and said she would commit suicide if he did not come to kidnap her. Then the boy kidnapped her. Afterwards they got married according to the norms of the neighborhood," he said.
"When the case came to us, they were already married officially and they had three kids. Before the [new] law came into force, the boy would have been sentenced to a minimum eight years and four months [in prison]. Now it is 16 years and eight months. Do I find this fair? No I don’t. But I am the implementer of the law."
Turkey has struggled to address widespread domestic violence and sexual assault of women by men. Last month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish government discriminated against and violated the right to life of a woman killed by her husband in 2008.
The court issued a 65,000-euro fine to Ankara.