Women’s rights groups, lawyers and doctors have condemned Turkey’s decision to introduce a mandatory chemical castration programme for convicted sex offenders, arguing the treatment does not address the underlying reasons for widespread violence against women, and that bodily punishment will instead lead to increased abuse.
Özgül Kaptan, director of the Women’s Solidarity Foundation (Kadav), has condemned the law – which came into effect on 26 July, at a time of extended legislative powers – as misguided.
“It’s a very bad and dangerous decision,” she said. “The law reduces crimes related to sexual abuse and rape to the one offending individual and to that individual’s body, which disregards the systemic problem of why so many men in Turkey commit these crimes or are violent against women.
“Men are taught to think that they have a right over women. We need to change ideas about gender equality and masculinity. What we really need is a change of attitude, of education. That cannot be done by passing such a law, or overnight.”
Reliable data on violence against women in Turkey is hard to come by, and many cases go entirely unreported. According to the independent Turkish press organisation Bianet, 284 women were killed in Turkey in 2015. In 77% of cases, the murderer was the victim’s husband or partner, or a male relative. At least 133 women were raped, and 42% of the victims were under the age of 18.