Turkey introduces harsh punishment for sexual abuse of children

September 11, 2011, Sunday/ 18:10:00

Turkey’s Official Gazette announced on Friday that the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse introduced by the Council of Europe is now officially in force in Turkey to protect children against sexual exploitation and abuse and specifies harsh punishment for people who engage in such activities.

The convention establishes an emergency help line for children who are being subjected to sexual exploitation and makes arranging to meet children via the Internet for sexual purposes a crime. People who own or view child pornography can be convicted, and DNA samples from those who physically engage in the sexual exploitation and abuse of children will be archived by the state.

The convention aims to create a national and international collaboration to prevent the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It also takes vital steps to protect the rights of victims of child molestation and assures that victims will be protected regardless of their ethnic background, language, religion or political views. Under the convention anyone under the age of 18 is counted as a child, and the state will provide classes in the primary and high schools to educate children in protecting themselves from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

The convention states that forcing children into sex work and patronizing child sex workers or the businesses that employ them are acts of sexual exploitation and abuse whether the child is paid or not. The production, sale, distribution, broadcast, offering or provision of pornographic videos involving children are also considered exploitative and abusive. Offering to meet a child via information technology, with the intention to sexually exploit or abuse the child, is also an offense.

The statements of children who suffer from sexual molestation will be investigated by professional teams. Countries that have signed the convention will collaborate by storing and sharing identification information and DNA data for the perpetrators. In the investigation and trials of sexual exploitation and abuse against children, victims and alleged perpetrators will be kept separate while giving statements. Victims will take part in trials via video conferencing.

Even if a victim withdraws their testimony during an ongoing sexual child exploitation or abuse, the investigation will not end there. The convention requires the state to introduce emergency help centers.

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