Number of convicted rapists in Turkey increased 23-fold in two years: CoE report

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Silivri Prison in İstanbul has become a symbol of Turkey, the biggest jailer of journalists around the world. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

The Council of Europe (CoE) has released a report on the trends of prisons in Europe between 2005 and 2015 which indicated that the number of suspects convicted of rape in Turkey saw a sharp increase from 523 in 2013 to 12,253 in 2015, a 23-fold increase in two years, BBC Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

The report revealed that as of 2014, people sentenced for robbery and theft made up the largest group in the prison population, followed by individuals convicted of murder and attempted murder, drug abuse, assault and battery and rape.

The type of incarceration that saw the most dramatic increase, according to the report, was for the crime of rape as its number skyrocketed from 523 in 2013 to 4,293 in 2014 and to 12,253 in 2015.

Assistant Professor Galma Akdeniz, a staff member at Istanbul Bilgi University’s Human Rights Center, commented on the BBC story on her Twitter account on Wednesday to clarify some of the figures that appear in the report.

Akdeniz underlined that the increase in the number of those convicted of rape may have arisen from several factors including, and most notably, certain amendments that were introduced in 2014 to the provisions of Turkey’s penal code that pertain to sex crimes, which envisaged longer prison sentences for sex offenders.

“When penalties get prolonged, the number of those imprisoned goes up as more and more inmates remain behind bars,” Akdeniz tweeted.

Akdeniz also pointed out that the original CoE report features, in addition to rape, another category named “other sex crimes” which, in Turkey’s case, saw a sharp decline over the same period of 2013-2015, implying a tradeoff between the two categories.

This, according to Akdeniz, points to some sort of confusion with respect to criminal categorization in data sent from Turkey.

Akdeniz added that as there might be many victims who refrain from filing complaints, many complaints that do not turn into criminal prosecution and many cases that do not end in imprisonment, the number of inmates itself is not a reliable indicator as to whether the crime rate is up or down.

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