Age of Consent -- Turkey

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Updated 03-2003


Feb 19 2003


By Patrick Mulchrone

IT was the moment love-struck schoolgirl Rachael Lloyd had dreaded.

A verdict and possible sentence were about to be passed yesterday on the Turkish barman she had fallen for on holiday.

She looked down at a translation of the judge's words and saw "five years' imprisonment".

LOVERS: Mehmet Ocack and Rachael

Rachael said later: "I read 'five years' and just shuddered."

Tears started to trickle down her face and she promised to wait for 24-year-old Mehmet Ocak - found guilty of having underage sex with her.

Rachael, 15, who ran away from home last year to be with Ocak, said: "It's just not fair. These people don't live in the real world.

"He shouldn't be in jail. It was my idea to run away to Turkey and to have sex with him. I'm just going crazy worrying about him locked up in a prison cell.

"But I'll wait for him, I swear I'll wait for him."

Four judges at a court in Gaziantep, south east Turkey, convicted Ocak of statutory rape after the couple had denied underage sex allegations.

Ocak claimed he did not know Rachael was only 14 when they first met last summer in Marmaris. The age of consent in Turkey is 15.

At the time Rachael, from Wrexham, North Wales, was on holiday with her gran - with whom she lives - and sister Beckie, 16.

She stayed behind for 10 days to be with Ocak and later skipped Britain on a false passport to rejoin him.

The Daily Mirror helped her divorced father Bob to track her down and bring her home.

Yesterday, after Rachael and her dad had flown 1,000 miles to try to secure Ocak's freedom, she saw her worst fears realised.

She stood pale-faced and nervous beside her father as judge Riza Sahin delivered the verdict and sentence after only 15 minutes' deliberation.

Rachael's gaze jumped from the back of Ocak's head in the dock in front of her to the notes being scribbled in English by her Turkish lawyer standing at her shoulder.

As the shock of the "five years" hit home, Ocak was led from court. They exchanged smiles and he shouted: "This love will never end."

Rachael's father - who chose to support her campaign to help Ocak rather than risk losing her again - was equally stunned by the verdict.

Lawyers had suggested to them that Ocak - who Rachael calls Steve - would go free.

Bob, 46, said: "She is really, really upset, but I'm trying to be strong for her.

"I know it's strange doing what I'm doing, but this is a really strange situation." He had chosen not to press charges after his first visit to Turkey.

Ocak - said to have cheated on Rachael with other tourists - was detained in December as part of a public prosecution.

During his hour-long trial, he recalled what happened last year: "I told Rachael that problems would occur and she had to go. But she did not go.

"Rachael said that she loved me so much and wanted an engagement with me. We got engaged at the hotel. Rachael went home crying and unwillingly." She was later sent a diamond and sapphire-encrusted gold ring by Ocak.

In a grey suit and black shirt, Ocak claimed in court that Rachael's gran Carol Lloyd and her sister had offered her hand in marriage.

Ocak said he agreed and told how Rachael later "escaped" from her home in Britain.

HE said: "She came to Istanbul and phoned me. I went to Istanbul and we travelled to Marmaris together."

They moved on to Ocak's home in Gaziantep. He said his family were against the marriage because the economy there was not good.

Told by the presiding judge that Rachael was "just a girl", Ocak's lawyer Yasar Saglam said his client didn't ask any questions about her age.

Ocak said: "She didn't say and I didn't need to ask."

The judge asked dad Bob, through an interpreter, if he wanted to make a complaint..

He rose to say only "No." The judge asked if Rachael's age on her passport was correct. He confirmed it was. Then the judge asked Rachael if she wanted to complain. Rachael, in jeans, a black denim shirt and denim, fur-lined coat, rose to say "No." Asked if she had had sex with Ocak, she said no.

She said she had first had sex in Britain with another friend.

Ocak's brother Ali said Mehmet intended to marry Rachael. He was told that until she was 18, that would only be with court approval.

After the verdict, Ocak's lawyers spirited the Lloyds away from court, avoiding a battery of TV cameras.

Rachael met Ocak's mother Neriman, sister Selma and brothers Ali and Sedat at a hotel nearby.

She was hugged by Neriman, who said: "I love my son Mehmet and Rachael and I want them to marry.

"I have seven grandchildren. Only Mehmet and Sedat among my children are not married. I want to see their children and caress them."

Rachael's father said: "I think her hopes were built up by his lawyers. She was even planning a dinner for his release. But she says she'll wait for him and I believe her."

Rachael said of her dad: "This has proved how much he loves me and how much I love him. We never really got on before."

Ocak's lawyers were hopeful of cutting the sentence to less than two years.



Updated 01-2001


TURKEY LAWS: 1. Homosexual activity is legal, the age of sexual consent is 18 for vaginal and anal sex, and 16 for all other sex.
2. Homosexuals are banned from the military, and homosexual officers and conscripts must serve prison sentences of 3 to 6 months, officers are discharged immediately following imprisonment.
3. The southern town of Adana bans public male-male kissing, public male-female and female-female kissing are still permitted.
4. Article 10 of the Law of Associations can be used to make gay
organizations illegal.


Turkey - Turquie - TurquŪa                     Ankara

I. Ages for legal purposes
Age of simple majority           The legal age of majority is eighteen (18) years.

Age of consent for sexual activity
There is not precisely a legal age of consent for sexual activity.

Age of consent for marriage
The legal age of consent for marriage is seventeen (17) years for male persons and fifteen (15) for female persons.

II. Rape
From six months to three years’ punishment is required to those who have sexual intercourse with a child.
Any violence increase the punishment to at least seven years.

III. Other forms of child sex abuse
There isn’t any article considering sexual intercourse with a child committed without violence.

If the crimes are committed against minors by their kin or by those who have authority over them,
they are punished half fold more.

Anyone who has intercourse with a child under the age of fifteen (15) is punished with not less than
5 years’ imprisonment.

IV. Child prostitution
Child prostitution under the age of twenty-one (21) is forbidden.
It should be mentioned here that no complaint has reached to the police so far.

V. Child pornography
To our knowledge, there are no special legal provisions concerning the offence of child pornography.
Article 426 of the Turkish Criminal Code :
" Whoever exhibits obscene books, newspapers, pamphlets, magazines, documents, articles,
advertisements, pictures, illustrations, photographs, movie films or other items ; or who puts on
stage or show these things in theatres, cinemas or other public places, or who knowingly
distributes or sells or suffers them, or the photograph records of the same nature, to be distributed
or sold, or who in order to make profit or to distribute or exhibit such items, draws, illustrates,
carves, manufactures, prints, or reproduces such items, or records them on photograph records, or
imports, exports or transports them form one locality to another in Turkey, or suffers the foregoing
activities to be performed, or who performs any transaction respecting any of the foregoing
objects, or performs any transaction to facilitate the trade thereof, or who, in any manner, makes
publicly known the ways of procuring, directly or indirectly, these documents or items, shall be
imprisoned for one month to two years and shall be sentenced to pay a heavy fine of 15 to 500
liras. "

Article 427 of the Turkish Criminal Code :
" The provisions of foregoing article are applicable also to the writes of obscene books, articles,
documents or advertisements and to those who have assumed administrative responsibility for
newspapers or magazines containing such writings or pictures.

The documents and objects mentioned in the foregoing and in this article, shall be confiscated
and destroyed. "

Article 428 of the Turkish Criminal Code :
"Whoever openly sings obscene songs, plays such pornographically records, or sells newspapers,
pamphlets and other documents by way of pronouncing words which are against public decency or
injurious to a person’s or a group of persons’ honour and dignity, shall be imprisoned for one to six
months and shall be sentenced to pay a heavy fine of 30 to 50 liras. "





EDITOR:  Sorry, we have lost our source for this document.
EDITOR - Jan 28, 2000:  Thanks to the reader who pointed our where our information came from.  Here is the link: 

"I came across with the info about age of consent in Turkey. You have stated that you forgot where you got the info from. It's actually from Lambda Istanbul's website. The web address is:    The new website of Lambda Istanbul in turkish is:  Best regards, (name removed for privacy).


The age of consent in Turkey is 18. There are no articles on homosexuality in the law but vague references to public morals and public order. The police has the legal right to take anyone who looks suspicious to the police station for interrogation. The general crime level in big cities is among the lowest in Europe. Nine milliion tourists are expected to visit the country in 1996.

Turkey is geographically, politically, economically in Europe. More than 90% of its population is muslim. The police has wide powers, and some fractions in the police force has close ties with the radical nationalist right-wing groups. Despite the lack of any organized gay bashing, gays have not been allowed to come out and get organized in an open fashion. gay movements so far have been underground movements. "International Christopher Street day" (gay pride) festivities planned to take place in Istanbul in July 1993 was first allowed, and then banned by the local government officials before taking place. A similar attempt to organize a cultural week in September 1995 by Lambda Istanbul was not allowed on the grounds "of public morals".

Homosexuality was a rooted tradition in the era of Ottoman Empire which lasted more than five centuries. It is known that some of the sultans had homosexual affairs and public Turkish baths (hammams) were the common meeting place among men. There were poets and musicians who were known to be homosexual. These traditions lost their power with the westernization of Turkey which came with the establishment of the Republic in 1923. But there is a general acceptance towards effeminate male entertainers. For example the most famous Turkish classical singer Zeki Muren is a latent, extremely flamboyant gay person, and has been so since 1950's or BŁlent Ersoy, who is a very popular and has multi-million selling albums although being a transexual.Turkey has a macho culture, and this is reflected in gay attitudes: Traditionally, gays are divided into the active (laco) and the passive (lubunya). However a more recent and a more westernized culture is beginning to gain ground where no categorization is felt necessary.



Legal Context
FROM:  (

Rather than challenging the discriminatory emphasis on female virginity, Turkish criminal law and, ultimately, state practice reinforce it.  Turkish criminal law makes female honor the state's business.33 Many sex crimes are defined by Turkey's criminal code in terms of their impact on women's virginity and honor. In fact, sexual assaults against women are classified by law as "Felonies Against Public Decency and Family Order." In contrast, other forms of battery are considered "Felonies Against Individuals."

Crimes against public decency and family order include rape,34 acting "indecently in public" or engaging in sexual intercourse in public,35 removing "the virginity of a girl who has completed fifteen years of age, with a promise of marriage,"36 and abducting an adult woman through force, violence, threats or fraud and "under lascivious feelings or with the  intent of marriage."37 The statutes defining many of these crimes explicitly refer to the virginity of the victim. For example, causing a woman or girl to lose her virginity after falsely promising to marry her is a felony. Medically documented loss of virginity is considered evidence of the crimes of seduction, statutory rape and removing virginity with a promise of marriage.

A man charged with any of these crimes can escape criminal liability by marrying the women bringing charges.38 If family members suspect or know that a woman has had sexual intercourse, they may attempt to force amarriage between a daughter and her sexual partner by filing criminal charges with the police who then take her for an exam. Thus, if statutory rape or "removal of virginity" is charged by family members, a girl may be required to submit to a virginity exam.

The designation of sex crimes as violations of community or family morality has two consequences. First, it identifies the community and not the individual woman as the party that suffers harm consequent to the crime. Second, it defines the harm done in terms of a woman's honor rather than her physical integrity. The investigation and prosecution of sex crimes thus stress not the physical harm to the woman but rather her honor and thus public decency and family order that may have been compromised.39 Consequently, sex crimes committed against non-virgins are perceived to be less serious offenses than those committed against virgins because the potential damage to family order is less grave. Until the late 1980s, for example, Article 438 of the Turkish Criminal Code provided reduced penalties for men convicted of rape and abduction where the victim was proved to be a prostitute.40 The emphasis on public decency and family order in codifying sex crimes lays the groundwork for women's honor‚€”rather than the physical harm suffered‚€”to be the central question at issue in such investigations.

Virginity or lack thereof is not relevant to and does not determine the legitimacy of a claim of sexual abuse or assault. Nonetheless, prosecutors and judges may unfairly deem evidence of a woman's virginity to be relevant to any charge of sexual assault, even though loss of virginity is not an element of the crime of rape.41 Thus, women alleging sexual assault are judged in light of the invidious notion that a woman's sexuality, as indicated by her mode of dress, lifestyle or status as a virgin, implies consent to sexual relations or a lack of credibility. Assessing a woman's credibility as a witness and asa victim in light of her reputation for modesty, or lack thereof, reinforces the different standards by which men and women's sexual behavior are judged.

Nonetheless, gynecological exams are performed in the course of investigating most sex crimes, in part for the purpose of determining whether the woman involved is a virgin.42 This not only invites discrimination in the adjudication of such crimes, but also is inconsistent with the Turkish criminal code. Local doctors, activists and lawyers concur that vaginal exams may be performed at the state's behest only (1) consequent to the filing of criminal charges and then only with the woman's willing participation in collecting evidence to support her charge, or (2) as a part of regular health checks for working prostitutes pursuant to Turkey's present law on prostitution. Moreover, gynecological exams pursuant to criminal charges may be performed only at the request of a prosecutor or judge.43 Despite such regulations, state officials compel women to submit to vaginal exams without their consent and when no criminal charges have been filed alleging a sex crime.

The Turkish authorities' involvement in or tolerance of forced virginity control exams violates rights expressly guaranteed by the
Turkish constitution. Forced virginity exams violate women's right to privacy as protected by the Turkish Constitution.44 Sexual intercourse between consenting adults is not illegal in Turkey, thus the consensual sexual conduct of unmarried women is protected against the unwanted scrutiny of police and other state officials. Police have no legal justification for harassing women in their homes or on the street for suspected sexual conduct. Such scrutiny violates women's right to be free from arbitrary interference with their privacy and homes. The exams themselves violate the right to privacy by subjecting women's bodies to unwarranted and invasive searches.

The infliction of virginity exams also violates the Constitution's guarantee of freedom from discrimination.45 As the testimonies below demonstrate, the state discriminates against women by acting to control women's private, sexual practices with the threat or imposition of abuse to which men are not subjected.46 Thus, although both men and women may suffer torture or cruel and degrading treatment while in police custody or be detained for improper behavior, only women are subject to degrading and abusive treatment pertaining to their sexual conduct. Moreover, the bias that maintains the legitimacy of the state's interest in women's sexuality is imbedded in laws and state practices that attempt to monitor women's, and not men's, sexual conduct. For example, if an unmarried couple staying in a hotel is detained for suspected prostitution, it is the woman who is questioned about her sexual conduct and examined for evidence of lost virginity. In other words, her virginity or lack thereof may be considered evidence in an investigation of illegal prostitution whereas his sexual practices are not considered relevant to the
investigation. Nor is he threatened with or subjected to comparable invasions of his privacy and physical integrity.

The detention of women for suspected illegal prostitution and their subjection to virginity exams also raise questions regarding due process. The ICCPR states that "[n]o one shall be deprived of his liberty except on suchgrounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law."47 The Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Body of Principles) provides a number of due process protections relevant to the arbitrary detention of Turkish women accused of illegal prostitution. First, it specifies that no one shall be detained without an effective and prompt opportunity to appear before a judicial or other authority and an opportunity to defend herself. A detained person has the right to know why she is being detained as well as the terms of her detention. Further, detained persons should not be denied the opportunity to communicate with family and counsel. Finally, the Body of Principles mandates that
detainees be treated humanely and with respect for their dignity. "No circumstance whatever may be invoked as a justification for torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."48

Turkish officials operate in flagrant violation of these principles. Evidence indicates that police detain women for suspected illegal prostitution or immoral activity without justification and without first conducting any kind of investigation to support their accusations. These women are not charged with the crime of practicing prostitution illegally. Nor are they brought before a prosecutor or judge. Instead, they are held without charge and forced to submit to gynecological exams, which we previously described as a form of cruel and degrading treatment. Some women are then held against their will and forced to undergo treatment if they are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.

33 The Turkish criminal code is based on the Italian criminal code of 1889, which was adopted by Turkey in 1926. The code
has been greatly amended and over half of its articles changed. In addition to the criminal code, there are numerous penal
statutes which pertain to specific crimes and regulate special fields of criminal law. Dr. Feyyaz Golcuklu, "Criminal Law," in An
Introduction to Turkish Law, Tugrul Ansay and Don Wallace, Jr., eds. (Deventer, Netherlands: Kluwer Law and Taxation
Publishers, 1987).

34 Turkish Criminal Code, Article 416.

35 Ibid., Article 419.

36 Ibid., Article 423.

37 Ibid., Article 429.

38 Ibid., Articles 423 and 434.

39 The law even provides a remedy for the perceived harm of lost honor by creating an incentive‚€”suspension of criminal
prosecution‚€”for a man charged with certain of these crimes to marry his "victim" and thus minimize the consequences of her
loss of honor.

40 Article 438 was challenged in Turkey's constitutional court as violatory of the Constitution, but the court rejected the claim
on the grounds that dishonest women, i.e. prostitutes, should not be treated the same as honest women. After much public
debate, the Turkish parliament repealed the provision in 1988/89. Canan Arin, Report on Women's Status in Turkish Law
(unpublished paper), September 27, 1991.

41 Interview, Istanbul, July 8, 1993.

42 When a woman files a criminal complaint alleging a sex crime, the court or prosecutor may direct that an examination be
conducted for the purpose of gathering forensic evidence. The doctors responsible for performing gynecological exams in such
cases are forensic physicians employed by the ministry of justice to act as court consultants. The police, however, have no
independent authority to send women to forensic medicine for gynecological exams. A doctor asked by the police to perform
such an exam is required to send the case back for authorization from a judge or prosecutor. Interview, Prof. Dr. Ozdemir
Kolusayin, director of Istanbul Forensic Medicine, Istanbul, July 9, 1993. Doctors referred to in this report as forensic
physicians are employees of the ministry of justice.

43 Interview, Dr. Ozdemir Kolusayin, director of Istanbul Forensic Medicine, Istanbul, July 9, 1993.

44 Article 17 of the Turkish Constitution provides, "The physical integrity of the individual shall not be violated except under
medical necessity and in cases prescribed by law." The Turkish Constitution also specifically protects individuals' privacy.
Article 20 states that "[e]veryone has the right to demand respect for his private and family life. Privacy of individual and family
life cannot be violated. Exceptions necessitated by judiciary investigation and prosecution are reserved."

45 Article 10 of the Turkish Constitution provides that "[a]ll individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law,
irrespective of language, race, colour, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such consideration."

46 Although it may be argued that the status of men's virginity cannot be ascertained with a medical examination, neither can the
status of women's virginity be determined conclusively with a gynecological examination. Yet only women are questioned about
their virginity and selected as targets for invasive and degrading exams. Interview, Dr. Nahid Toubia, M.D., January 13, 1994.
As a Turkish doctor told Human Rights Watch, the fact that a woman's hymen is torn or damaged "is not necessarily evidence
of sexual intercourse." Nonetheless, the perception is "if her hymen is ruptured, then she is not a virgin." Interview, Dr. Sebnem
Korur Fincana, M.D., Istanbul, July 8, 1993.

47 ICCPR, Article 9.

48 Article 90 of the Turkish constitution provides that international treaties ratified by the Turkish government have the force of
domestic law. Thus, the human rights instruments ratified by Turkey strengthen domestic protections for victims of human rights
abuse. Principles 1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15 of The Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention
or Imprisonment, U.N. General Assembly Resolution 43/173 of December 9, 1988.


In Istanbul, a doctor and professor of forensic medicine asserted that families frequently bring women and girls to the state forensic medical department for virginity exams. This doctor stated that during her residency in forensic medicine, at least one woman was brought for a virginity exam every time that she worked the nightshift. Many of these women allegedly were attempting to force men to marry them. The doctor recalled two cases of women over eighteen who, when asked for their consent, refused to undergoan exam. In both instances, the women's families agreed not to pursue a virginity exam.95 This underscores the fact that doctors who respect women's right to refuse virginity exams can effectively prevent this abuse from occurring.

See articles and comments on virginity testing (Forced virginity tests banned)

Pre-marital sex under the age of 18 is illegal in Turkey.


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