Is European justice too lax on rape?
European courts have repeatedly handed down sentences to sex offenders that the public considers too lenient. Commentators have focussed recently on cases in Spain and Turkey. They call for the offenders to receive just punishment rather than being given lenient sentences on the grounds of extenuating circumstances.
Reduced sentences for rapists a daily occurrence
A man was sentenced on Monday in Turkey for raping his two under-age daughters over a period of years. The judges reduced his sentence on the grounds of his good conduct in court. Such judgements are unfortunately a common occurrence in Turkey, Hürriyet Daily News complains:
“In Turkey former Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya had spent her term repeating that 'reducing sentences' based on the so-called 'good conduct' would be cancelled entirely. One can say that not a single step was taken in this direction. A murmur rises each time there's news that an abuser's sentence was reduced over so-called good conduct, and then nobody cares. We all know very well that this inglorious man is not the only example in the country. ... The system lets these abusers back into the society, saying 'he means well'.”
Penal code must be amended
Once again a Spanish court has found three men guilty of abuse but not rape even though in the course of the trial it became clear that the perpetrators took turns raping the semi-unconscous woman and even invited others to join in. El País calls for the penal code be amended:
“Like in the La Manada case, the court ruled that the perpetrators had used neither violence nor intimidation, so the offence was classified as abuse and not rape. ... The penal code must be amended. The decisive criteria when assessing a case of sexual assault must not be the use of violence or intimidation but the lack of consent on the part of the victim. It's just as obviously a case of rape when three men penetrate a woman who is under the influence of drugs as it is after threatening her with a knife.”