Gorazd Meško, PhD, is Professor of Criminology at the
Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of
Maribor, Slovenia. He has conducted several comparative
research projects in the region of South-Eastern and
Eastern Europe, including the development of policing,
legitimacy of policing, crime prevention, fear of crime,
and crimes against the environment.
Eszter Sárik, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow in the
Crime Research & Analysis Division at the Hungarian
National Institute of Criminology, Budapest, where she
has been working since 1999, conducting research on
juvenile delinquency and crime prevention. She is member
of the Balkan Criminology Network and former national
representative of the European Crime Prevention Network.
Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac, PhD, LL.M, is Associate
Professor at University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Law, Croatia.
She heads the Balkan Criminology Network (former Max
Planck Partner Group for Balkan Criminology, 2013–
2019) and the Violence Research Lab, as well as the
Faculty’s Institute of Criminal Law Sciences, Criminology
and Victimology (since 2019).
This timely and comprehensive collection of discussions on victimology, victims of
crime and victim protection policies in the Balkans and beyond engages readers with
the current state of the art of regional victimology in the Balkans and Central Europe.
Original contributions from as many as ten countries of the region analyse the deve-
lopment of victimology, victim protection policies and practices, as well as major
areas of victimological research.
The main idea of the book at hand is to provide an insight into the complex nature
of victimisation in contemporary societies and a deeper understanding of the nature
of, and responses to, victimisation in the context of the criminal justice system and
civil society. Chapters about the recent developments of victimology in Albania,
Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania,
Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey reﬂect on cultural victimology and contextualisation of
victimology and victimological thought from a broader societal perspective. More
importantly, the chapters thus present, for the ﬁrst time, a comparative and contextual
account of regional contributions to present-day victimology.
This publication is a milestone of victimological research calling for a follow-up and
more comparative victimological studies in the future, improvement of practice in
victim protection and more feasible victim protection policies.
“With this volume of essays, Balkan victimology is ﬁrmly put on the international map. Both
governments and researchers have their work cut out for them in strengthening victims’ rights across
Jan van Dijk, winner of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology 2012
fellow of the NSCR in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
“This pathbreaking book documents how politics, culture and development matter for the status
of victims in a society, and the extent to which their protection and support is a priority.”
Wesley G. Skogan, Northwestern University, USA
ISBN 978-3-86113-279-0 (Max-Planck-Institut)
ISBN 978-3-428-15993-2 (Duncker & Humblot)
ISBN 978-953-270-136-4 (Zagreb Faculty of Law)
Gorazd Meško, Eszter Sárik, Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac (eds.)
Mapping the Victimological Landscape of the Balkans
Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac (eds.)
Mapping the Victimological
Landscape of the Balkans
A Regional Study on Victimology and Victim
Protection with a Critical Analysis of
Current Victim Policies
Research Series of the Max Planck
Institute for Foreign and International
Publications of the Max Planck
Partner Group for Balkan Criminology
Edited by Hans-Jörg Albrecht
& Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac
Volume BC 4
The Max Planck Partner Group for Balkan Criminology (MPPG) is a
Zagreb-based research division jointly established by the Max Planck
Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg
(MPI) and the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Law. It is headed by
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac. The MPPG promotes,
conducts and facilitates scientiﬁc research in the ﬁeld of criminology
and criminal justice and hosts the Balkan Criminology Network.
Since 2020 the MPPG has been operating independently as the
Balkan Criminology research platform.
The MPPG’s research programme focuses on three main research
areas, speciﬁcally targeting criminal phenomena that are of parti-
cular relevance to the Balkan region, or that may threaten its
future security and stability: I. Violence, Organised Crime and
Illegal Markets; II. Feelings and Perceptions of (In)Security and
Crime; III. International Sentencing.
The MPPG’s main goals are to foster criminological research on
Balkan-relevant topics including the dissemination of ﬁndings to the
broader scientiﬁc community, capacity building for young academics
from the region through training and PhD research, creation of a
sustainable network of criminological experts throughout the
Balkans, and positioning Balkan Criminology in the European
research arena and beyond. The Balkan Criminology publication
series provides a forum for the presentation of the MPPG’s scientiﬁc
output; it also connects the research potential present in the Balkans
with the research agenda of the MPI, thereby ensuring cutting edge
criminological research of the highest quality.
26548_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_UG.indd 126548_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_UG.indd 1 24.08.21 12:5224.08.21 12:52
Research Series of the Max Planck Institute
for Foreign and International Criminal Law
Publications of the Max Planck
Partner Group for Balkan Criminology
Edited by Hans-JörgAlbrecht
& Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac
Volume BC 4
26999_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_Titelei.indd 226999_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_Titelei.indd 2 08.07.21 11:1608.07.21 11:16
Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac (eds.)
Mapping the Victimological
Landscape of the Balkans
A Regional Study on Victimology
and Victim Protection with a CriticalAnalysis
of Current Victim Policies
26999_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_Titelei.indd 326999_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_Titelei.indd 3 08.07.21 11:1608.07.21 11:16
Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliograﬁe;
detailed bibliographic data are available on the in-ternet at http://dnb.d-nb.de
All rights reserved
© 2020 Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science e.V.
c/o Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law
Günterstalstr. 73, 79100 Freiburg i.Br., Germany
Sales and distribution together with Duncker & Humblot GmbH, Berlin, Germany
University of Zagreb – Faculty of Law,Trg Republike Hrvatske 14, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Cover picture: Harut Movsisyan/Pixabay
Printing: Stückle Druck und Verlag, Stücklestr. 1, 77955 Ettenheim, Germany
Printed in Germany
ISBN 978-3-86113-279-0 (Max Planck Institute)
ISBN 978-3-428-15993-2 (Duncker & Humblot)
ISBN 978-953-270-136-4 (Zagreb Faculty of Law)
26999_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_Titelei.indd 426999_MPI_BC_4_Mesko_Titelei.indd 4 08.07.21 11:1608.07.21 11:16
Victimology and Victim Protection
Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
1. General Country Background
After the fall of the Ottoman State, the Republic of Turkey was founded on 29 Octo-
ber 1923, in Ankara, the country’s new capital. Turkey, at the crossroads of Europe
and Asia, is located at the northeast end of the Mediterranean Sea in southeast Europe
and southwest Asia, and is bordered by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean
Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west. Turkey is primarily a Western Asian
country, with a small portion of Eastern Thrace located in Southeast Europe. The
surface area of Turkey is 814,578 square kilometres, of which 97% are in Asia and
3% in Europe (referred to as Thrace). The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara and the
Dardanelles separate the European and the Asian parts of the country. Turkey has
traditionally been a country of emigration; however, of those who did immigrate to
Turkey, until the late 1980s, the majority of arrivals were from the Balkans. After the
collapse of the USSR, a new wave of migrants came from former Soviet republics.1
The Syrian civil war, which started in 2011, has further aﬀected Turkey: Turkey is
currently hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, with nearly 3,586,679
Syrian refugees under temporary protection (almost half are children).2In addition
to this refugee crisis, Turkey suﬀers from a decades-long struggle with terrorism.
There have been 4,106 terrorist attacks in Turkey between 1970 and 2016.3Turkey
also recently witnessed several political events, such as a series of suicide bombings
and an attempted coup-d’état on 15 July 2016 (the latter resulted in 248 deaths and
2,193 serious injuries). After the initial declaration in July 2016, Turkey extended a
state of emergency several times and, ﬁnally, ended it in July 2018.4
1Human Resource Development Foundation 2007, p. 227.
2Ministry of the Interior, General Directorate of Migration Management 2018a.
4Hurriyet of 01.02.2020; Türkiye’de Ohal Sona Erdi; http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/
ohal-uygulamasi-sona- erdi-40901478 [19.01.2019].
532 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
Turkey is a secular state and the political system is based on the principle of sepa-
ration of powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches. After a con-
stitutional referendum on 16 April 2017, the Turkish Constitution changed from
a parliamentary to a presidential system. Accordingly, the Prime Ministership has
been abolished and the President of Turkey is the head of the executive branch of
government as well as the head of state. The President is elected directly by popular
vote. While legislative power is vested in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey,
judicial power is exercised by independent courts.
Although public administration in Turkey is divided between central and local au-
thorities, Turkey maintains a highly centralised administrative system. The country
is divided into provinces, districts and sub-districts. The central administration is
organised at the provincial, district and sub-district levels and includes various gov-
ernmental ministries and agencies (as well as their provincial and district branch-
es). In Turkey, there are 81 provincial, 919 district and a number of sub-district
administrations. Local administration in Turkey is comprised of special provincial
administrations, municipalities (including metropolitan municipalities) and villages.
At present, there are 81 special provincial administrations, 30 metropolitan munici-
palities, 1,398 municipalities and 18,336 village administrations in Turkey.5
After Russia and Germany, Turkey has the third largest population in Europe. As of
31 December 2017, and based on the address-based population registration system,
Turkey had 80,810,525 inhabitants (50% male) with an annual growth rate of 1.2%.6
The population in Turkey was around 67,804,000 in 2000 and has thus increased
by 19% during the last seventeen years. About 92% of the population live in urban
areas, while the remainder lives in towns and villages. Amongst the 81 provinces,
Istanbul is the largest city in terms of population (15,029,231), followed by the cap-
ital Ankara (5,445,026), Izmir (4,279,677) and Bursa (2,936,803). The country’s
population density was 105 people per square kilometre in 2017, ranging from 11 to
2,892 among all the provinces. With 2,892 inhabitants per square kilometre, Istanbul
had (and still has) the highest population density, followed by Kocaeli (521), Izmir
(356), Yalova (297), Gaziantep (294), Bursa (282), Hatay (270) and Ankara (222).
Tunceli has the lowest population density with 11 inhabitants per square kilometre,
followed by Ardahan (20), Erzincan (20), Sivas (22), Bayburt (22) and Artvin (23).
The population in Turkey is relatively young, with 24% of the country’s population
falling within the 0–14 age bracket. The 15–64 age bracket corresponds to 67.5% of
the population while the 65 and above age bracket makes up 8.5% of the total pop-
5Ministry of the Interior 2018.
6The last population census was carried out in 2000 in Turkey. In 2006, the address-based
population registration system was established, and the ﬁrst results based on the new sys-
tem were announced in 2008 for the previous year; this and all the subsequent statistical
information on Turkey in this paragraph was taken from TurkStat 2018a.
ulation. According to the address-based population system, there were 40,535,135
men and 40,275,390 women in 2017. The median age was 31 for men and 32 for
women. Within the population aged 15 years and over, 27.4% were single, 63.4%
married, 5.5% widowed and 3.7% divorced. The birth rate for 2017 was 16.1 births
while the death rate was 5.3 deaths per thousand people. The estimated fertility rate
in 2017 was 2.07 children per woman. The infant mortality rate for 2016 was 10
deaths per thousand live births, and life expectancy was 75.3 years for males and
80.7 years for females in 2014.
The foreign-born component of Turkey’s population accounts for about 2% of the
country’s population. According to the address-based population system records in
2017, 19% were born in Bulgaria, followed by Germany with 14.4%, Iraq with 10.4%,
Syria with 5.7%, Afghanistan with 4.1% andAzerbaijan with 3.7%. There are no oﬃ-
cial statistics on the ethnic or religious composition of the country’s population.
Turkey is an upper-middle income country with a gross domestic product of 12,112
US dollars (in current prices) per capita (in 2014). Based on the Income and Living
Conditions Survey conducted in 2016, the Gini coeﬃcient by household disposable
income was 0,404. Among the population aged 15 years and over in 2017, the la-
bour force participation rate was 52.8% while the unemployment rate was 10.9%.
Of those in the labour force, 19.4% were employed in agriculture, 26.5% in industry
and 54.1% in services. Turkey is a founding member of the UN, OECD, OSCE, a
member of NATO, the Council of Europe and an associate member of the EU.7
2. Current State of Victimology
Victimology is currently not an institutionalised scientiﬁc discipline in Turkey. It is
generally taught as a graduate selective course at some of the country’s law facul-
ties. There are only two textbooks on victimology8and all victimology courses use
these books as the course material. Currently, there is no national victimological
society and not a single Turkish academic journal focuses on victimology. Informa-
tion on victims is scarce as police statistics on crime and victims are not available to
the public9and, in addition, Turkey does not conduct regular victimisation surveys
at the national level. Therefore, no national set of data exists about the number
and the characteristics of victims (reported or unreported). There are, however,
a number of national surveys that focus on speciﬁc types of victimisation, such
as violence against women.10 Given the signiﬁcance of the topic and the push for
7Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs 2018a.
8Sokullu-Akıncı & Dursun 2016; Polat 2014.
9Sözüer & Topçuoğlu 2014.
10 Altınay & Arat 2007; 2009; Ministry of Family and Social Policies, General Directorate on
the Status ofWomen 2015; Prime Ministry, Institution of Family Research 1995; 1998.
534 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
women’s rights since the 1980s, the ﬁrst comprehensive study on domestic vio-
lence against women was carried out in 1993/4 on behalf of the Family Research
Institution of the Turkish Prime Ministry.11 This was followed by another national
study on the prevalence and correlates of violence against women in 2008 (with a
follow-up study in 2014).12 While numerous victimisation surveys have occurred
at the local level, methodological drawbacks of most empirical research (e.g.,
lack of representative samples, inadequacy of research design, etc.) make it diﬃ-
cult to obtain an accurate picture of either the actual prevalence rates or the risk
factors of victimisation.
Despite these drawbacks, victimological research is developing in Turkey. An ex-
amination of empirical victimological studies conducted in Turkey suggests that
researchers generally focus on issues such as intimate partner violence, sexual
abuse, victimisation at school (e.g., peer-bullying), cyber-bullying and victimi-
sation at work (e.g., mobbing, violence against healthcare workers). In recent
years, Turkey has taken part in some international studies on victimisation. For
example, Turkey participated in the International Crime Victims Survey (ICVS)
in 2005 with a city-based sample in Istanbul.13 Turkey also participated in the
Balkan Epidemiological Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (BECAN)14 and the
International Self-Report Delinquency 3 (ISRD 3) study, an international com-
parative survey on delinquency and victimisation of school children (the latter
was carried out in 2017 with a city-based sample in Istanbul). Nevertheless, there
are still a number of areas that have not yet attracted adequate scholarly attention
in Turkey, such as secondary victimisation, repeat victimisation, elderly victimi-
sation, victims of traﬃcking, victims of white-collar crime, environmental victi-
misation, tourism and victimisation, victimisation within prisons and victimisa-
tion of minorities.
Several governmental and state-related institutions, in cooperation with various
non-governmental organisations (NGOs), provide victim support and victim pro-
tection. Such institutions and organisations play a key role in the study of victi-
mology in Turkey. Key governmental and state-related institutions that actively
provide protection and assistance for victims of various types of crime, such as
women victims of violence, child victims of crime and victims of human traﬃck-
ing, are listed in Table 1.
11 Prime Ministry, Institution of Family Research 1995.
12 Ministry of Family and Social Policies, General Directorate on the Status of Women
2015; Ministry of Family and Social Policies and Hacettepe University Institute of Pop-
ulation Studies 2015.
13 Jahic & Akdaş 2007; Jahic & Akdaş Mitrani 2010.
14 Akço, Dağlı, İnanıcı, Kaynak, Oral, Şahin, Sofuoğlu & Ulukol 2013.
The Ministry of Family and Social Policies15 was founded in 2011. It encompasses
eight service units, including the General Directorate of Family and Community
Services, the General Directorate of Social Assistance, the General Directorate on
the Status of Women, the General Directorate of Child Services, the General Direc-
torate of Persons with Disabilities and Elderly Services and the Department of Fall-
15 After the submission of this chapter, with the Decree Law No.703 dated 9 July 2018, the
Ministry of Family and Social Policies merged with the Ministry of Labour and Social
Security under the Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family, which was renamed
as the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services with the Presidential Decree on the
Organisation of the Presidency published on 10 July 2018.
Ministry Institution Main focus Internet site
General Directorate of
Status of Women
General Directorate of
Child Services Children
Child Support Centres http://cocukhizmetleri.aile.gov.tr/
of Health Child Monitoring
Centres Child victims of
sexual abuse https://www.saglik.gov.tr
General Directorate of
ment Victims of hu-
man traﬃcking http://www.goc.gov.tr/En_3
Department for the
Protection of Victims
of Human Traﬃcking
ing, women https://www.ankara.bel.tr
ing, women –
General Directorate of
Prisons and Detention
of Probation Victims of crime
for Penal Aﬀairs,
Department of Victim
Table 1 Key Governmental/State-Related Institutions Involved in Victim Protection
536 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
en Soldiers’ Relatives and Veterans’ Aﬀairs.16 The General Directorate on the Status
of Women was assigned as the coordinating body on issues of violence against
women and honour killings pursuant to the Prime Ministry Circular in 2006.17 The
General Directorate is responsible for the coordination and provision of various
protective, preventive, educational, counselling and rehabilitative social services
to women.18 Accordingly, in 2012, numerous Violence Prevention and Monitoring
Centres (V PMCs) were established.19 These centres provide services to victims of
violence, including accommodation, temporary ﬁnancial assistance, counselling
and guidance, legal and medical assistance and employment support.20 Currently,
there are 49 VPMCs in Turkey.21 Furthermore, in addition to the services provided
through the VPMCs and other women’s shelters directly linked to the Ministry
of Family and Social Policies, various help and support services are available to
female victims of violence through health institutions, local administrations, bar
associations and NGOs. Amongst all NGOs, those initiated by women’s groups are
the strongest in Turkey (given the long history – going back to the Ottoman peri-
od – and the accomplishments of the women’s movement in Turkey).22 Currently,
there are 143 women’s shelters in Turkey, with a total capacity of 3,444 beds.23
Of these, 109 are aﬃliated with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies and
32 are under the administration of municipalities. While one women’s shelter is
aﬃliated with the Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Migration Manage-
ment, another is owned by an NGO.24 These shelters provide various services to
women who are victims of abuse or violence of any form, including counselling,
psychological support, legal support, medical care support, temporary ﬁnancial
16 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2017; Article 6 of the Decree Law on the Es-
tablishment and Functions of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, Law No. 633,
03.06.2012, Oﬃcial Gazette 08.06.2011/27958.
17 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2018; Prime Ministry, Circular on Measures to be
taken for the prevention of Violence against Children and Women and Honour Killings,
No. 2006/17, Oﬃcial Gazette 04.07.2006/26218.
18 Article 9 of the Decree Law on the Establishment and Functions of the Ministry of Fam-
ily and Social Policies.
19 Article 14 of the Law on Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Wom-
en, Law No. 6284, 08.03.2012, Oﬃcial Gazette 20.03.2012/28239.
20 Article 15 of the Law on Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Women.
21 Ministry of Family and Social Policies, General Directorate on the Status of Women
2017, p. 4.
22 The women’s movement is quite strong and autonomous in Turkey, especially since the
1980s. Accordingly, the movement has been very inﬂuential on government responsive-
ness to violence against women; see Sözüer, Baytaz & Kelep 2012; Tekeli 2010; Yeşilyurt
23 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2018.
24 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2018.
aid, allowances, kindergarten services, vocational training courses, group work
and scholarships for children.
The General Directorate of Child Services (previously named Agency of Social
Services and Child Protection before 2011) also functions under the Ministry of
Family and Social Policies and is responsible for the coordination and provision of
various protective, preventive, educational, counselling and rehabilitative services
for children.25 The General Directorate is responsible for carrying out protective
and supportive measures for juvenile victims of crime as well as security measures
for juveniles who have drifted into crime, as determined by the Child Protection
Law.26 Within the Turkish child protection system, Child Support Centres are es-
pecially important, since they provide services to three speciﬁc groups of children:
children who are victims of crime, children who have drifted into crime and chil-
dren living on the streets.27 These are specialized residential rehabilitation centres
based on the age, gender and special needs of the children; they provide psy-
cho-social services to children who are in need of protection (i.e., children whose
physical, mental, social or emotional development and personal safety is in dan-
ger, children who are neglected or abused or children who are victims of crime).
Assistance is also provided to delinquent children.28 As of December 2017, there
are 65 Child Support Centres in Turkey, accommodating around 1,640 children.29
The Ministry of Health is the governmental agency responsible for the diagnosis of
sexual abuse cases as well as for extending treatment and rehabilitation services.30
Child Monitoring Centres under the Ministry of Health are especially important in
this context. After the ratiﬁcation of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the
Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote
Convention) in 2011, Turkey has taken important steps and necessary legislative
measures to ensure that interviews with children take place in premises speciﬁcally
designed for this purpose, are carried out by trained professionals and, wherever
25 Article 8 of the Decree Law on the Establishment and Functions of the Ministry of Fam-
ily and Social Policies.
26 The Law on Child Protection, Law No. 5395, 03.07.2005, Oﬃcial Gazette 15.07.2005/
27 Ministry of Family and Social Policies, General Directorate of Child Services 2018; Ar-
ticle 14 of Law No. 6518, 06.02.2014, Oﬃcial Gazette 19.02.2014/28918.
28 Ministry of Family and Social Policies, General Directorate of Child Services 2018; Ar-
ticle 4 of the Regulation on Child Support Centres, Oﬃcial Gazette 29.03.2015/29310;
Article 3 of the Law on Social Services Law No. 2828, 24.05.1983, Oﬃcial Gazette
27.05.1983/18059; the Law on Child Protection.
29 Ministry of Family and Social Policies, General Directorate of Child Services 2018.
30 International Children’s Center, University of Hacettepe, Institute of Public Health &
Society of Public Health Specialists 2015, p. 23.
538 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
possible, are conducted by the same persons to avoid secondary victimisation.31 In
2012, Child Monitoring Centres were established to conduct interviews and provide
medico-legal examinations of child victims of sexual abuse.32 As of April 2016,
there were 27 Child Monitoring Centres in Turkey.33 In addition, various help and
support services are available to children through universities and NGOs (see Ta-
ble 2). Within this context, university-based child protection implementation and
research centres, which provide diagnostic and therapeutic services for abused chil-
dren and carry out preventive studies, are especially important.34
Furthermore, it is also important to mention one of the new legal and institutional
changes that took place in Turkey in relation to combating human traﬃcking. After
the collapse of the Soviet Union, human traﬃcking has emerged as a major phe-
nomenon in Turkey. In response, Turkey has taken important steps to ﬁght human
31 Article 35 of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against
Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse; Council of Europe Convention 2007.
32 The Prime Minister’s Circular on Child Monitoring Centres, No. 2012/20, Oﬃcial Ga-
zette 04.10.2012/28431; Bar Association of Trabzon, Committee on Children’s Rights
2015, p. 6.
33 Milliyet of 17.04.2016, Adli Sürecin Travmasını Mimimuma İndiriyoruz; http://www.
34 For more information about the establishment and the activities of the university-based
child protection implementation and research centres in Turkey, see Akço et al. 2013, pp.
NGOs Main focus Internet site
Mor Çatı Women’s
Sexual abuse of
The Foundation for
Child Protection Centres
Support Society Children http://cokmed.org
Society for Prevention of
Child Abuse and Neglect Children –
Human Resource Develop-
ment Foundation Human traﬃcking http://www.ikgv.org/eng_ikgv_gecici/
Association Human traﬃcking http://ailedanismanlari.org
Table 2 Selected NGOs Dealing With Certain Types of Victims
traﬃcking and help traﬃcked persons. All measures are conducted in cooperation
with relevant stakeholders.35 With the adoption of the new Law on Foreigners and
International Protection in 2013, a new specialized institution, called the Gener-
al Directorate of Migration Management, was established within the Ministry of
Interior.36 The General Directorate has a special Department for the Protection of
Victims of Human Traﬃcking. This Department is responsible for the coordination
of counter-traﬃcking actions and all measures to assist traﬃcked persons. Turkish
authorities are currently working in co-operation with two state-related institutions
(Ankara Metropolitan Municipality and Kırıkkale shelter homes) and one NGO
(Human Resource Development Foundation) to provide shelters and assist victims
of human traﬃcking (see Tables 1 & 2).37
Finally, the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses and the General
Directorate of Penal Aﬀairs, both under the Ministry of Justice, have special de-
partments that deal with the needs and rights of victims. In the provinces, there are
Victim Support Services Bureaus and Protection Board Bureaus under the Probation
Department. These bureaus work in co-ordination with all state and non-govern-
mental institutions that deal with victim protection and support, and provide both
counselling services and psycho-social programmes.38 In addition, the Department
of Victim Rights, established in 2013 under the General Directorate of PenalAﬀairs,
is responsible for providing various counselling and support services to victims,
including psycho-social services and social and economic help; it is also responsi-
ble for the development of alternative compensation and intervention programmes
based on the needs of the victims of crime.39
3. Relevant Legal Framework in Terms of Criminal Policy
General interest in victims and victims’ rights in Turkey is relatively new. Especially
since the 1990’s, the main focus of the law has been on the rights of suspects and the
accused. The victim—the other side of crime’s coin—has long been neglected. How-
ever, with the 2004–2005 reform of Turkish penal law, important regulations on vic-
tims came into force. The term “victim” can be deﬁned diﬀerently from criminological
35 Dündar & Özer 2012, p. 19.
36 Article 103 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection, Law No. 6458,
04.04.2013, Oﬃcial Gazette 11.04.2013/28615.
37 Ministry of the Interior, General Directorate of Migration Management 2018b.
38 Articles 19 and 20 of the Regulation on Probation Services, Oﬃcial Gazette 05.03.
39 Ministry of Justice, General Directorate of Penal Aﬀairs, Department of Victim Rights
540 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
and normative perspectives. From a criminological perspective, the victim refers to
a person who has suﬀered harm, pain or death as a result of the actions of another
person.40 From a normative perspective, however, there is no clear deﬁnition of the
victim or the injured party within the basic penal laws of Turkey.41 Therefore, in the
penal law literature, it is possible to ﬁnd various deﬁnitions (either narrow or broad).42
Victims of domestic violence (especially women), sexual crime (especially children)
and mass economic crime (e.g., fraud) have featured prominently in the Turkish me-
dia and public discourse. Media coverage of crimes and victims is very inﬂuential on
political and public discourse; moreover, it can lead to new progressive regulations on
related crimes and their victims. Examples of such progressive reforms are the estab-
lishment of the Child Monitoring Centres in 2012 for child victims of sexual abuse, the
establishment of the aforementioned VPMCs for victims of domestic violence and the
2017 establishment of judicial interview rooms in the courthouses for the questioning
of children and other vulnerable individuals (as victims, witnesses or perpetrators).43
40 Sokullu-Akıncı & Dursun 2016, pp. 1–3. According to the UN Declaration of Basic Prin-
ciples of Justice for Victims of Crime andAbuse of Power of 1985, victims refer to peo-
ple who, individually or collectively, have suﬀered harm, including physical or mental
injury, emotional suﬀering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental
rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within
the Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power. This term
also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependents of the direct vic-
tim and persons who have suﬀered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or
to prevent victimisation (Annex, Articles 1–2 of the Declaration). Thus, not only direct
(primary) victims but also indirect (secondary) victims, such as the family/dependents of
victims, witnesses of crime, and even the whole society are included (Sokullu-Akıncı &
Dursun 2016, loc. cit.).
41 In the Regulation on Probation Services (Oﬃcial Gazette 05.03.2013/28578), a victim
is deﬁned as a person who needs support due to physical, emotional or ﬁnancial con-
sequences of the crime committed against him/her or one of his/her family members
42 In the doctrine of substantive penal law, a victim is deﬁned as the owner of the object
of the crime. For example, the owner of a stolen object is the victim of a crime of theft
crime; see Özgenç 2017, p. 206; Koca & Üzülmez 2017, pp. 114–115. However, in penal
procedural law, the term “injured party” is used rather than the term “victim”; it describes
a person whose protected legal value (e.g., right to life, property right, etc.) or legal in-
terest has been violated. The concept is further categorized as direct/narrow and indirect/
wide. Pursuant to this understanding, a person who is killed is the direct victim of murder,
but her/his relatives are considered the indirect injured party; see Öztürk, Tezcan, Erdem,
Sırma Gezer, Saygılar Kırıt, Özaydın, Alan Akcan & Tütüncü 2016, pp. 231–233.
43 For more detailed information on Child Monitoring Centres and VPMCs, see Sokul-
lu-Akıncı & Dursun 2016, pp. 78–80, 316–320. For more information on judicial inter-
view rooms, see Ministry of Justice, General Directorate of Penal Aﬀairs, Department
of Victim Rights 2018b; Delegation of the European Union to Turkey 2019. The Child
Monitoring Centres and judicial interview rooms are organised by administrative regula-
tions, whereas the VPMCs are established by law.
3.2 General Overview of National Legal Provisions Related to
Currently, there is no special act on victims in Turkish law. Provisions are, howev-
er, included in the Turkish Penal Code and the Penal Procedure Code. In addition,
victim-related provisions can be found in the Child Protection Law, the Law on the
Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence against Women, the Law
on Probation Services and the Law on Combating Terrorism. While the concept
of victim is not deﬁned in these laws, they each contain various provisions about
victim rights and/or protections.
In this context, various provisions of the Turkish Penal Code44 provide an opportu-
nity for victim restitution. For example, the compensation for damage is regulated
as an alternative sanction for short-term imprisonment,45 as a condition for the
suspension of a prison sentence46 or as eﬀective remorse.47 In the Penal Procedure
Code,48 victims’ rights during the penal process are regulated under a separate
section. The victim’s role in various transactions, their role as public claimants
and the use of victim-oﬀender mediation are also foreseen.49 The Child Protection
Law50 also contains several protective and supportive measures for children,51 not
only for those who have drifted into crime but also for those who are neglected,
abused or victimised.52. The Law on the Protection of the Family and the Preven-
tion of Violence against Women53 regulates protective and preventive measures
for female victims of violence.54 In this Law, the concept of violence has a very
44 Law No. 5237, 26.09.2004, Oﬃcial Gazette 12.10.2004/25611.
45 See Article 50/1-b of the Law No. 5237. This means one year or less imprisonment (see
Article 49/2 of the Law No. 5237).
46 See Article 51/2 of the Law No. 5237.
47 For example, see Article 168 of the Law No. 5237.
48 Law No. 5271, 04.12.2004, Oﬃcial Gazette 17.12.2004/25673.
49 These regulations will be discussed in detail below.
50 Law No. 5395, 03.07.2005, Oﬃcial Gazette 15.07.2005/25876.
51 “Child” refers to a person who has not reached the age of 18 (see Article 3/1-a of the Law
52 In this context, the Child Protection Law includes two diﬀerent terms: “child in need of
protection” and “child that has drifted into crime” (see Article 3).
53 Law No. 6284, 08.03.2012, Oﬃcial Gazette 20.03.2012/28239. This Law is based on the
Council of Europe/Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against
Women and Domestic Violence. This Convention is clearly mentioned in the Law as a
reference for the basic principles related to this subject (see Article 1/2-a).
54 See Articles 3–13 (protective and preventive measures) and Articles 14–15 (on VPMCs)
of the Law No. 6284.
542 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
broad deﬁnition.55 In the Law on Probation Services,56 it is also stated that Pro-
bation Centres must provide counselling and assistance to victims to help resolve
psycho-social and economic problems.57 Finally, in the Law on Combating Ter-
rorism58, the payment of compensation is regulated for those who suﬀer material
damage either due to terrorism or counter terrorism activities.59
With regards to the historical development of victim regulations in Turkey, it
is necessary to stress the penal law reform of 2004–2005, in particular the vic-
tim-related regulations in the Penal Procedure Code, Child Protection Law and
the Law on Probation Services. It is also important to mention a draft law on
victims’ rights.60 In the draft law, a victim is deﬁned as a person who has direct-
ly suﬀered physical, mental, psychological or economic harm as a result of the
commission of a crime.61 The draft law sets forth the basic principles, rights and
services for victim protection and regulates the speciﬁc services for victims with
certain characteristics (named as vulnerable groups). Furthermore, state compen-
sation for remedying the plight of victims is regulated for the ﬁrst time. More-
over, the regulations on the central and provincial organisation of the Victims’
Rights Department62 (under the Ministry of Justice) are also important in terms
of the establishment of the institutional infrastructure to protect and develop vic-
3.3 The Provisions of the Penal Procedure Code Which Regulate
the Status and Rights of the Victim in the Penal Procedure
The fourth book of the Penal Procedure Code63 is devoted to victims’ rights and
the participation of victims in criminal proceedings. Victims’ rights during the in-
55 See Article 2/1-d of the Law No. 6284.
56 Law No. 5402, 03.07.2005, Oﬃcial Gazette 20.07.2005/25881.
57 See Articles 12/1-c and 13/1-c of the Law No. 5402. In the Regulation on Probation Ser-
vices, the establishment of a Victim Support Services Bureau is foreseen to coordinate
and execute work intended for victim support (Article 19 of the Regulation).
58 Law No. 3713, 12.04.1991, Oﬃcial Gazette 12.04.1991/20843.
59 See Articles 21–22 of Law No. 3713. The Law on the Compensation of Damages arising
from Terrorism and Combating Terrorism (Law No. 5233, 17.07.2004, Oﬃcial Gazette
27.07.2004/25535), and Law on Cash Compensation and Determination of Monthly Sal-
ary (Law No. 2330, 03.11.1980, Oﬃcial Gazette 06.11.1980/17152) include speciﬁc reg-
ulations on this topic.
60 Draft Law on Victims’Rights; http://www.magdur.adalet.gov.tr/tasari-01177 [23.05.2018].
61 See Article 2/1-g of the Draft Law on Victims’ Rights.
62 For the website of the Victims’Rights Department, see http://www.magdur.adalet.gov.tr
63 See Turkey in the Annex for Articles 233–243 of the Law No. 5271.
vestigation and the prosecution phases64 are regulated separately. These rights are
provided by the prosecutor and the judicial police (who assist the prosecutor) during
the investigation phase and by the competent court during the prosecution phase.65
In each phase, there are four common rights:
1) The right to demand the gathering of evidence during the investigation phase
and to demand the invitation of witnesses during the prosecution phase
2) The right to review and copy the caseﬁle. During the investigation phase, this
right may be restricted, if it would endanger the secrecy and the aim of the
3) The right to demand the appointment of a lawyer on her/his behalf by the
Bar Association in cases of sexual assault and those crimes which lead to im-
prisonment of more than ﬁve years, if s/he has no lawyer. In cases where the
victim has not attained the age of 18, is deaf or dumb, or is unable otherwise
express their wishes, a lawyer shall be appointed on their behalf if they do
not already have one.
4) The right to resort to legal remedies against the decision of the public pros-
ecutor not to prosecute during the investigation phase and against the ﬁnal
decisions of courts at the prosecution phase, provided that s/he has been an
intervening party in the lawsuit.
In addition to these rights, victims also have the right to be notiﬁed about the main
trial and to participate in the criminal case during the prosecution phase.66 Through
participation, the victim is allowed to be present in various procedural transactions,
to personally participate in cross-examination (with the help of the judge or through
a lawyer)67 and may apply for legal remedies independent of the public prosecutor.68
In both phases (i.e., investigation and prosecution), the victim is heard like a witness,
and provisions related to the testimony shall apply, excluding the oath. To prevent
secondary victimisation, there are speciﬁc rules for the hearing of some victims. For
example, as a rule, a child or a victim who has suﬀered psychological damage due
to the committed crime shall be heard only once in relation to the investigation or
prosecution of the committed crime and, during the hearing, there shall be an expert
64 The term “prosecution” refers to the phase beginning with the decision on the admissibility
of the indictment and ending with the ﬁnal judgment (Article 2/1-f of the Law No. 5271).
65 See Article 234/3 of the Law No. 5271.
66 See Article 234/1-b of the Law No. 5271.
67 See Article 201 of the Law No. 5271.
68 See Article 242 of the Law No. 5271.
544 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
present who has expertise in the ﬁelds of psychology, psychiatry, medicine and/or
3.4 The Compensation System and Legal Services for Victims
Under Turkish law, there is still no general (state) compensation system speciﬁcally
designed for victims. However, as pointed out above, there is a draft law on this sub-
ject. In the draft law, state compensation is to be regulated for the victims of crimes,
such as intentional killing, aggravated injury and torture, sexual assault and abuse.70
Under current legislation, reference can be made to the provisions on temporary
ﬁnancial assistance, alimony and health insurance for victims of violence in accord-
ance with the Law on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence
against Women,71 and the compensation of victims of terrorism.
As a legal service that can help the victims, the establishment of Victim Support
Services Bureaus has been considered under the Law on Probation Services.72 How-
ever, these bureaus are still not completely active. Within this framework, the De-
partment of Victims’Rights was established under the Ministry of Justice in 201373
and the draft law on victims’ rights aims to organize this department nationwide.
Currently, as a legal service, the VPMCs established by the Ministry of Family and
Social Policy are active for the victims of violence. In addition, NGOs oﬀer support
for victimised women.74
3.5 Civil Actions Within the Penal Procedure
In the current penal procedure system, victims can participate in criminal proceed-
ings but they are not entitled to claim damages within the criminal proceeding. The
69 See Article 236 of the Law No. 5271.
70 See Article 19 of the Draft Law on Victims’ Rights.
71 See Articles 17–19 of the Law No. 6284.
72 According to the Article 19/3–4 of the Regulation on Probation Services, the duties of a
Victim Support Services Bureau are as follows:
a) to receive and evaluate victims’requests,
b) to inform victims about persons and entities where they can get help/receive aid,
c) upon the victim’s request
1) to inform them about the trial process and
2) to implement psycho-social support programmes. In addition, each bureau
operates in full coordination with all relevant institutions, organizations and
persons carrying out related activities for the victims.
73 Ministry of Justice, General Directorate of Penal Aﬀairs, Department of Victim Rights
74 See Section 2: Current State of Victimology.
victim must ﬁle a claim at the civil court for compensation. The penal court, howev-
er, is obliged to clearly indicate in its ﬁnal judgement whether the victim has a right
to ask for compensation.75
Prior to the Turkish penal law reform in 2004–2005, the victim was able to claim
her/his personal rights through participation in the criminal case, and the penal court
could rule on compensation provided that it would not dramatically lengthen the
3.6 Regulations Related to Restorative Justice
In the context of restorative justice, various penal, procedural and enforcement reg-
ulations include provisions that consider the victim, promote the victim’s interests
and compensate the victim for damages. For example, as an eﬀective remorse reg-
ulation in crimes against property, if compensation is paid, a signiﬁcant penalty re-
duction is foreseen.77
As mentioned above, compensation of the victim’s loss may substitute a short-term
prison sentence of one year or less.78 Moreover, the compensation of the victim’s
loss is a pre-condition for various other court orders, such as the suspension of a
prison term,79 postponement of the ﬁling of a public claim80 or postponement of the
pronouncement of a sentence81 (while these rules are designed with perpetrators in
mind, they also protect the interests of victims).
The most important regulation on restorative justice is mediation. This institution
was regulated for the ﬁrst time with the 2004–2005 Turkish penal law reform. Pre-
viously, only crimes which could be investigated and prosecuted on complaint were
indicated as crimes eligible for mediation, and the confession of guilt and compen-
sation for damage were stipulated as pre-conditions.82 In the Penal Procedure Code,
only the procedure for mediation by the prosecutor, the court or the mediator was
75 See Article 232/6 of the Law No. 5271.
76 Former Penal Procedure Code, Law No. 1412, 04.04.1929, Oﬃcial Gazette 20.04.
77 See Article 168 of the Law No. 5237.
78 See Article 50/1-b of the Law No. 5237.
79 See Article 51/2 of the Law No. 5237.
80 See Article 171/3-d of the Law No. 5271.
81 See Article 231/6-c of the Law No. 5271.
82 See Article 73, repealed paragraph 8 of the Law No. 5237.
83 See Articles 253–254 of the Law No. 5271.
546 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
Through legal reforms,84 the provisions on mediation within the Turkish Penal Code
were moved into the Penal Procedure Code and the scope of mediation was extend-
ed. In addition to crimes investigated and prosecuted on complaint, some minor
crimes (regardless of dependency on a complaint) were included as well. Sexual
crimes and those crimes where the provisions of eﬀective remorse apply, have been
excluded even if they depended on complaint. The pre-conditions, such as the con-
fession of crime and compensation of the damage were repealed, and the will of the
parties has become important.
Finally, with further reform amendments in 2016,85 some other crimes (such as
threat, theft and fraud) and all juvenile crimes punishable by less than three years
imprisonment have also been included within the scope of mediation.86 In addition,
those crimes for which the provisions of eﬀective remorse apply can also be handled
through mediation. The 2016 amendments also created an autonomous structure for
mediation via the establishment of a mediation oﬃce within the prosecutor’s of-
ﬁce,87 in accordance with the provisions of the Recommendation of the Council of
Europe concerning mediation in penal matters, No. R (99)19.88 Lastly, mediation
fees are now considered court expenses and are compensated by the state treasury.89
4. Picture of the Situation of Victimisation in Turkey Based
on Data and Research Findings
Oﬃcial data sources with regards to crime victims in Turkey are extremely scarce.
Oﬃcial statistics on victims comprise both police and judicial data sources. Police
statistics on suspects and victims are collected by the General Directorate of Public
Security in urban areas, whereas the Turkish Gendarmerie is responsible for record-
ing crimes committed in sub-districts and villages. As previously mentioned,90oﬃ-
cial statistics on crime victims compiled by the police and the gendarmerie are not
accessible to the public. There is, however, one exception. Since 1997, data on juve-
niles received into security units of the police and the gendarmerie are compiled and
published annually by the Turkish Statistical Institute. This study initially covered
84 Law No. 5560, 19.12.2006, Oﬃcial Gazette 19.12.2006/26381.
85 Law No. 6763, 24.11.2016, Oﬃcial Gazette 02.12.2016/29906.
86 See Article 253/1 of the Law No. 5271.
87 See Article 253/24 of the Law No. 5271.
88 See Articles 5 and 20 of the Council of Europe Recommendation (Council of Europe
1999). In this context, the Department of Alternative Dispute Resolutions was established
under the Ministry of Justice. For the website of the Department, see http://www.alternat
89 See Article 253/22 of the Law No. 5271.
90 Sözüer & Topçuoğlu 2014.
27 provinces in Turkey; but since 2007 the coverage was extended to all 81 provinc-
es. These statistics cover data on juveniles who are brought into security units for a
variety of reasons. Therefore, they include data on juvenile crime victims as well as
Figure 1 presents data on the number of juvenile suspects and juvenile victims re-
ceived into security units between the years 2008–2016. Within this publication,
juvenile victim is deﬁned as a child who has suﬀered material/tangible or intangible
harm as a result of the commission of a criminal oﬀense, and hence it includes
physical and emotional harm, property damage or economic loss. An examination
of the number of juvenile victims brought into security units reveals an increasing
trend over the last eight years. It can also be seen in Figure 1 that while the num-
ber of juvenile suspects was larger than that of juvenile victims between the years
2008–2010, since 2011 the number of juvenile victims increasingly exceeds that of
juvenile suspects. In 2016, while 158,343 children were brought to security units
due to crime victimisation, the number of juvenile suspects was 108,675. Overall,
55% (86,519) of the juvenile victims were male while 45% (71,824) were female.91
The age distribution of juvenile victims for both genders in 2016 is displayed in
Figure 2. The ﬁgure indicates that overall, within both genders, children aged 15–17
years are the most likely to be victimised (43% for males, 48% for females). This
is followed by children aged below 11 years (35% for males, 29% for females)
and then those aged between 12–14 years (22% for males and 23% for females).
Although more detailed information on juvenile suspects is available (e.g., type of
crime, education level, drug use, etc.), oﬃcial police and gendarmerie data on juve-
91 TurkStat 2018b.
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Juvenile victims 44,153 61,645 76,428 88,582 111,857 121,717 131,172 142,179 158,343
Juvenile suspects 62,430 68,344 83,393 84,916 100,831 115,439 117,486 118,245 108,675
Figure 1 Juvenile Suspects and Juvenile Victims Received Into Security Units,
Source: Data taken from TurkStat 2018b.
548 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
nile crime victims are limited. However, since 2014, oﬃcial data on juvenile crime
victims are further categorised by type of crime victimisation. In 2016, although
there were 158,343 juvenile victims in total, 95 (0.06%) were victims of misdemean-
our, 19,070 (12%) were victims of crimes that are prosecuted on complaint and the
remainder (139,178; 87.9%) were victims of other crimes.92 A further examination
of the latter category indicates that a majority of the juveniles were victims of violent
oﬀences. According to the most recent statistics available, while 83,607 (60%) juve-
niles were victims of assault in 2016, 16,877 (12%) were victims of sexual crimes.93
Unfortunately, oﬃcial statistics on juvenile victims do not include more detailed
information such as the type of the relationship between the victim and the oﬀender.
In contrast to police and gendarmerie data, judicial statistics in Turkey are annu-
ally published; unfortunately, they include highly limited data on crime victims.
Further, it should also be noted that a number of changes, such as the criminal law
reform which took place in 2004–2005, limit the comparability of judicial statistics
for diﬀerent time periods in Turkey. Besides the criminal law reform, another signif-
icant change relates to the data compiling method and the counting rules employed
by the General Directorate of Criminal Records and Statistics.94 Prior to 2009, all
judicial data were compiled by mail; but since 2009 these data are electronically
obtained from the National Judiciary Network Information System which includes
92 TurkStat 2018b.
93 TurkStat 2018b.
94 Sözüer & Topçuoğlu 2014, pp.384–385.
Below 11 12–14 15–17 Unknown
Figure 2 Juvenile Victims by Age and Gender, 2016
Source: Data taken from TurkStat 2018b.
data based on a diﬀerent counting rule.95 Furthermore, previously between the years
2006–2009, oﬃcial statistics on the number of victims were relatively more detailed
and included information on the type of crime victimisation as well.96 Since 2009,
these statistics include only the total number of victims (and complainants) within
the cases brought (which include cases from the preceding year, new cases and those
brought through reversal by the Supreme Court) and those judged at the criminal
courts each year. These ﬁgures are only divided by gender and nationality; no further
detailed information is available about victims.
Figure 3 displays the total number of victims and complainants within the new cases
brought at the criminal courts category during the years 2009–2017. Overall, males
are more likely than females to be victims, though the disparity seems to have de-
creased over the last eight years. The number of male victims peaked at 736,137
in 2010 and then decreased to a minimum of 546,144 in 2017, indicating a 26%
decrease. The number of female victims continuously increased from 2009 (except
for the slight decrease in 2014) and reached a maximum of 373,743 in 2015, indi-
cating a 46% increase. Between the years 2015–2017, the number of female victims
decreased by 21% to 294,784. As shown in Figure 4, while the majority of the crime
victims are Turkish nationals, the percentage of foreign-born victims increased sig-
95 Sözüer & Topçuoğlu 2014, pp.384–385.
96 Ministry of Justice, General Directorate of Judicial Record and Statistics 2008; 2009;
679,410 660,056 663,511 630,282 653,706
309,628 332,303 361,742 376,662 357,248 373,743
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Male Female Gender unknown
Figure 3 The Number of Victims and Complainants Within the New Cases
Brought at the Criminal Courts, 2009–2017
Source: Data taken from Ministry of Justice, General Directorate of Judicial Record and Statistics 2011; 2012a;
2012b; 2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018.
550 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
niﬁcantly after 2013. Indeed, the number of foreign victims almost tripled from
13,976 persons in 2013 to 38,718 in 2017. Unfortunately, no further information is
available either on the type of crime or the country of origin of the victims.
In addition to police and judicial data, there is also information on speciﬁc types
of victims in Turkey, such as victims of human traﬃcking. As mentioned earlier,
as part of the new initiatives taken in Turkey to counter human traﬃcking, a new
specialized institution, the General Directorate of Migration Management, has been
established within the Ministry of Interior.97 The General Directorate has a speciﬁc
department for the protection of traﬃcked persons. This department is responsible
for the coordination of counter-traﬃcking initiatives and currently publishes sta-
tistics on victims of human traﬃcking. Figure 5 displays the number of traﬃcked
persons identiﬁed each year since 2010. In total, Turkish authorities have been able
to identify 1,730 victims of human traﬃcking between the years 2005–2017.98 The
majority of the group is constituted by sexually exploited young women aged be-
tween 18 and 25 who originate mainly from countries of the former Soviet Union.99
Three specialized shelters were opened to assist traﬃcked persons.100
97 Ersan 2013, pp. 99–104; Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs 2018b; Ministry of the Interior,
General Directorate of Security 2018.
98 Ministry of the Interior, General Directorate of Migration Management 2017, p. 89.
99 Dündar & Özer 2012, pp.24–25; Ersan 2013, p. 101; Human Resource Development
Foundation 2007, pp. 227–228.
100 Ersan 2013, p. 101.
1,036,897 1,002,141 1,008,906 1,027,456
15,899 13,319 12,225 14,703 13,976 18,864 34,394 38,800 38,718
Figure 4 The Number of Victims and Complainants Within the New Cases
Brought at the Criminal Courts 2009–2017, Category: by Nationality
Source: Data taken from Ministry of Justice 2011; 2012a; 2012b; 2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018.
As mentioned above, Turkey does not conduct regular victimisation surveys. Unfor-
tunately, given the lack of police and gendarmerie data on crime victims (particu-
larly adults), victimisation surveys would be of great importance. Despite the lack
of nation-wide surveys, a study conducted as part of the International Crime Victim
Survey (ICVS) in 2005 revealed signiﬁcant ﬁndings with regard to the prevalence
of victimisation as well as the extent of unreported cases.101 Based on a sample of
1,242 people aged 16 or over (mean age 34.1 years) who were randomly drawn
from households in Istanbul, the study examined both ﬁve-year and one-year victi-
misation rates for nine diﬀerent types of crimes: car theft, theft from a car, burgla-
ry, attempted burglary, robbery, assault/threat, theft, consumer fraud, bribery. The
ﬁndings of the study indicated that when compared to victimisation rates for other
crimes, ﬁve-year victimisation rates for burglary were highest in Istanbul. When
compared to the ﬁndings obtained in other European cities that participated in the
ICVS, these rates were the highest. However, amongst those respondents whose
house was burglarized, only 57.4% of the victims reported the crime to the police.
Contrary to the victimisation rate for burglary, the reporting rate was found to be the
lowest when compared to other European cities. The study’s ﬁndings also pointed
out that one-year victimisation rates for violent crimes such as robbery and assault/
threat at the individual level were 1.1% and 0.7% respectively. Compared to other
European cities, the latter rate was the lowest whereas the rate for robbery was in
the middle of the scale. However, reporting rates for both types of crime were al-
most the lowest in Europe.102 Overall, the study’s ﬁndings highlight the importance
of conducting such surveys, as victim reporting rates depend on the type of crime
(ranging from 1.2% for bribery to 95.1% for car theft) and, amongst all nine types of
101 Jahic & Akdaş Mitrani 2007; 2010.
102 Jahic & Akdaş Mitrani 2007; 2010.
0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350
Figure 5 Victims of Human Traﬃcking, 2010–2017
Source: Data taken from Ministry of the Interior, General Directorate of Migration Management 2018b.
552 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
crimes, suggest that more than half of the crime victimisations in Istanbul were not
reported to the police.
Given the scarcity of information on crime victims based on oﬃcial statistics, the
remainder of this section will focus on empirical research ﬁndings to provide a more
detailed picture of victimisation in Turkey. In doing so, rather than cover all types of
victimisation, the main focus will be on certain types of victimisation experienced
by women, children and elderly people.
4.1 Women as Victims
Women may be victims of various types of crime; however, this part will mainly
focus on women who are exposed to violence. Violence against women is deﬁned
by the UN as
any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical,
sexual, or mental harm or suﬀering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion
or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.103
Violence against women is a widespread phenomenon, as indicated by a systemat-
ic review and meta-analysis of evidence based on representative population-based
surveys carried out until 2011 in more than 80 countries.104 The ﬁndings estimate
that the global, lifetime prevalence of experiencing either physical and/or sexual
violence is around 35% (i.e., 1 in 3 women).105 As is the case throughout the world,
violence against women is very common and attracts a signiﬁcant amount of public
and academic attention in Turkey.
Given the lack of oﬃcial data on women’s exposure to violence,106 it is important
to review empirical research ﬁndings based on victimological studies. A systematic
review of studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 2000 and 2015 re-
vealed 34 primary studies on the prevalence and risk factors for domestic violence
against women aged between 15 and 59 in Turkey.107 This review meta-analysed
all the retrieved studies on the prevalence of diﬀerent types of violence throughout
marriage. The results indicate that while the prevalence rate for general violence
throughout marriage was 57.2%, this rate was 33.8% for physical violence, 43.5%
for verbal violence, 33.7% for emotional violence, 26.8% for economic violence and
103 United Nations 1993.
104 WHO 2013.
105 WHO 2013.
106 Since oﬃcial police statistics are not available to the public, many NGOs try to compile
their own statistics based on criminal cases reported in the media. However, due to ques-
tionable methodology and statistical inconsistencies, the results are not mentioned here.
107 Keser Özcan, Günaydın & Çitil 2016.
12.3% for sexual violence.108 However, this systematic review had two important
limitations. First, although the aim was to review research ﬁndings on the prevalence
rate of intimate partner violence in Turkey, the inclusion criteria were too broad
to include studies based on representative as well as non-representative samples.
Second, since the search was limited to published journal articles, a number of im-
portant studies on violence against women carried out at the national level with rep-
resentative samples, but which were published either as a book or a research report,
were excluded. Another systematic review of journal articles examining all types of
intimate partner violence (IPV) against women in Turkey published between 2000
and 2010 revealed 22 studies on the prevalence of IPV against women.109 However,
once again, the majority of the studies included in this review were not based on
random probability sampling and, therefore, the representativeness of the samples
and the retrieved prevalence rates are questionable.
Given the signiﬁcance of the topic in Turkey and the acceleration of the women’s
movement since the 1980s, a signiﬁcant number of national studies have been
carried out on all types of violence against women in Turkey.110 The most recent,
nationwide survey was conducted in 2012–2014, using a weighted, stratiﬁed and
multi-staged cluster sampling technique.111 Face-to-face interviews were conducted
with 7,462 women aged between 15–59 years. The results of this study indicate
that 36% of married or previously married women in Turkey reported having been
exposed to physical violence by their husbands or intimate partners (8% in the last
12 months). The lifetime prevalence rate for physical violence was highest in the
Central Anatolian region (43%) and lowest in the Eastern Black Sea region (27%).112
Lifetime prevalence rates for sexual violence, emotional violence and economic vio-
lence/abuse were respectively 12%, 44% and 30% for married or previously married
women.113 The analyses based on all women indicate that 14% of women have expe-
rienced physical violence by people other than their husbands and intimate partners
since the age of 15. This rate was 3% for sexual violence. The perpetrators of phys-
ical violence were mainly fathers (43%), followed by mothers (23%), older broth-
ers (18%), father-in-law (8%), mother-in-law (8%) and brother-in-law (5%).114 In
contrast, the perpetrators of sexual violence were mainly strangers (56%), followed
108 Keser Özcan, Günaydın & Çitil 2016.
109 Güvenç, Akyüz & Cesario 2014.
110 Altınay & Arat 2007; 2009; Ergöçmen, Yüksel-Kaptanoğlu & Jansen 2013; Şenol &
Yıldız 2013; Prime Ministry, Institution of Family Research 1995; Yüksel-Kaptanoğlu,
Türkyılmaz & Heise 2012; Ministry of Family and Social Policies and Hacettepe Univer-
sity Institute of Population Studies 2015.
111 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014.
112 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014, p. 7.
113 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014, pp. 8–9.
114 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014, p. 16.
554 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
by male relatives (17%), boyfriends (13%) and work colleagues (12%).115 Preva-
lence of childhood sexual abuse (before age 15) was 9%: perpetrators were mainly
strangers (38%), followed by male relatives (29%) and acquaintances (15%).116 The
ﬁndings of this nationwide study also point out a very signiﬁcant fact regarding the
unreported numbers of intimate partner violence in Turkey. Overall, the majority of
women (89%) who experienced either physical or sexual violence did not report it to
any institution or organisation. Only 7% of the women reported it to the police and
1% to the gendarmerie.117 This fact alone signiﬁcantly shows both the limitations of
oﬃcial data and the importance of conducting victimisation surveys to understand
female victimisation experiences.
4.2 Children as Victims
Empirical victimological research on children in Turkey focus largely on bullying
and peer victimisation at schools. However, due to both the signiﬁcance of the top-
ic and limited space, this part will mainly focus on research studies carried out in
Turkey on child sexual abuse and exploitation. At this point, given the scarcity of
oﬃcial data on child sexual victimisation, it is especially important to mention one
systematic review on child sexual abuse and exploitation in Turkey which was con-
ducted as part of the Council of Europe’s “ONE in FIVE”118 campaign (with the
International Children’s Centre).119 This study systematically reviewed all empirical
research studies on child sexual abuse and exploitation published between the years
2002–2013 in Turkey.120 A review of 49 retrieved studies indicated that empirical
research studies in Turkey mainly focus on child sexual abuse, and that no single
study examined child pornography and traﬃcking. This important review also in-
dicates that the vast majority of the studies lack essential methodological qualities
such as representative samples, an adequate sample size, reliability and validity of
measurement, adequacy of the research design and statistical techniques used.121
Overall, this review identiﬁes only three prevalence studies on child sexual abuse
in Turkey. One study examined the prevalence of sexual abuse in 1,955 female
students (mean age 16.3 years) based on a representative sample randomly drawn
115 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014, p. 16.
116 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014, p. 17.
117 Ministry of Family and Social Policies 2014, pp. 25–26.
118 The name of the campaign refers to the research ﬁndings which indicate that one in every
ﬁve children in Europe is likely to be the victim of one form of sexual violence; see Lalor
& McElvaney 2008; Uslu & Kapçı 2014, p. 1.
119 Uslu & Kapçı 2014.
120 Uslu & Kapçı 2014.
121 Uslu & Kapçı 2014, pp. 9–10.
from the 9th through to 11th grades in Istanbul in 2000.122 The instrument used was
the international version of the Health Behaviour in School Age Children (HSBC)
1997/1998 survey.123 Within this study, sexual abuse was deﬁned as “unwanted sex-
ual experience (touching and intercourse)”, incest as “sexual abuse performed by a
person(s) who is (are) an immediate family member (father, brother, grandfather,
etc.)” and sexual assault as “intercourse with penetration.”124 Students who reported
any of these behaviours were counted as sexually abused. The ﬁndings of the study
indicated that overall, 13.4% of the female students had a history of sexual abuse and
4.9% reported that they have been forced to have sexual intercourse. An examination
of the relationship between the victims and the perpetrators of sexual abuse pointed
out that while 32% of the victims refused to respond to this question, in the majority
of the remainder cases, victims were sexually abused by a stranger (50%), followed
by boyfriend (14.8%), friend (13.6), relative (10.7%) or acquaintance (8.9%). Three
female students (1.8%) reported that they have experienced incest at the hands of
an immediate family member.125 Finally, in 93% of the cases, the perpetrator was
reported as male.
Another study examined the prevalence and correlates of school violence and sexual
abuse experienced at school in 5,031 students based on a representative sample ran-
domly drawn from the 6th through to 8th grades in Tokat in 2010/2011.126 The Turk-
ish translation of the International Child Abuse Screening Tool-Children’s version
(ICAST-C), which was developed by the International Society for the Prevention of
Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), was the main instrument used.127 The ﬁndings
of the study indicated that the prevalence rate was 57% for physical violence and
6.4% for sexual abuse. Boys were more likely than girls to experience both physical
violence (66.6% for boys vs. 47.1% for girls) and sexual abuse (7.9% for boys vs.
4.8% for girls). Both physical violence and sexual abuse at school was signiﬁcantly
more prevalent in the town centre than in the city centre (physical violence: 62% in
town centre vs. 54.5% in city centre; sexual abuse: 8.3% in town centre vs. 7.6% in
Finally, one study examined the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in 1,262 uni-
versity students (mean age 21 years) based on a sample drawn from seven univer-
122 Alikaşifoğlu, Erginöz, Ercan, Albayrak-Kaymak, Uysal & İlter 2006.
123 Currie, Hurrelmann, Settertobulte, Smith & Todo 2000.
124 Alikaşifoğlu et al. 2006, p. 250.
125 Alikaşifoğlu et al. 2006, pp. 251–252.
126 Yıldırım, Karataş, Yılmaz, Çetin & Senel 2013.
127 Zolotor, Runyan, Dunne, Jain, Peturs, Ramirez, Volkova, Deb, Lidchi, Muhammad &
128 Yıldırım et al. 2013, pp. 387–388.
556 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
sities in Istanbul, İzmir, Ankara and Aydın.129 Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) was
measured using ﬁve items from the sexual abuse factor of the Childhood Trauma
Questionnaire.130 The ﬁndings of the study indicated that overall 28.1% of the stu-
dents had experienced at least one form of sexual abuse during childhood. While
there was no gender diﬀerence in the total CSA score, girls were more likely than
boys to report that someone tried to touch them or made them touch themselves in a
sexual way (26% vs. 19.8%) and that they were sexually abused (9% vs. 5.5%).131
4.3 Elderly People as Victims
The most common types of victimisation experienced by elderly people include
abuse and neglect. Based on the deﬁnition developed by Action on Elder Abuse
(UK) in 1995, the WHO-CIG (World Health Organization-Centre for Interdiscipli-
nary Gerontology) deﬁnes elder abuse as “a single or repeated act or lack of appro-
priate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust
which causes harm or distress to an older person.”132 Elder abuse can take various
forms such as physical, psychological, economic or sexual, and might have serious
consequences for individuals including serious physical injuries and death. While
it is estimated that 15.7% of people aged 60 years and older are exposed to abuse,
these prevalence rates are regarded as underestimates of actual rates since many
cases of elder abuse take place behind closed doors and hence are not reported.133
Overall, the academic interest in the victimisation experiences of elderly people is
relatively new in many countries, and the situation is no diﬀerent in Turkey.134 Rel-
atively few empirical studies focus on elder victimisation in Turkey. However, as is
the case in many countries, Turkey’s population is aging. The population of people
aged 65 or over is currently 7,163,354 (8.7%), and is expected to more than double
and reach 16,373,969 (16%) people in 2040.135 Hence, even if not now, it is expected
that victimisation experiences of the elderly population will be more likely to cap-
ture researchers’ interest in the near future.
A recent systematic review of the published literature until July 2014 on abuse and
neglect of elderly people in Turkey initially yielded 34 studies on the victimisation
129 Eskin, Kaynak-Demir & Demir 2005.
130 For the original instrument, see Bernstein, Fink, Handelsman, Foote, Lovejoy, Wenzel,
Sapareto & Ruggiero 1994; for the psychometric test of the Turkish translation, see Aslan
& Alpaslan 1999.
131 Eskin, Kaynak-Demir & Demir 2005, pp. 189–190.
132 WHO 2008, p. 1.
133 WHO 2018.
134 Doerner ve Lab 2012, p. 294; Uysal 2002.
135 TurkStat 2018c.
of elderly people.136 A vast majority of the relevant studies, however, were excluded
from the systematic review since they were either review articles or case studies.137
Overall, only four empirical studies were included in the systematic review. These
studies were published between the years 1996–2012.
One study examined the prevalence rate of elderly abuse in a sample of 113 (42.3%
female) people aged 60 and over who applied for one of three residential facilities
in Istanbul.138 The ﬁndings of the study indicated that 25.7% of these elderly people
had been physically abused. An examination of the physical abuse cases revealed
that the perpetrator was most commonly the daughter-in-law (41.4%), followed
by sons (21%), son-in-laws (17.25%) and other relatives and neighbours.139 Fam-
ily patterns are quite diﬀerent in Turkey than in most Western countries, and it is
very common for the elderly to stay with their son’s family. The respondents in the
study reported that it was the daughter-in-law whom they had the most conﬂict with
(35%). Elderly people’s abuse by daughter-in-laws in Turkey, therefore, should be
considered within the context of the extended family structure.
Another study examined the prevalence and risk factors of physical and ﬁnancial
abuse of 550 elderly (65 years and over) people drawn from two diﬀerent socioec-
onomic districts in Izmir.140 The ﬁndings of this study revealed that the prevalence
rate for physical abuse was 1.5% and 2% respectively for elderly individuals living
in low and high socioeconomic districts.141 Elderly people were most commonly
victimised by their sons, spouses, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, daughters and
nephews.142 While the prevalence rate for ﬁnancial abuse among elderly people was
2.5% and 0.3% in low and high socioeconomic districts respectively, the prevalence
rate for neglect was much higher in both districts (27.4% in low socioeconomic
districts and 11.2% in high socioeconomic districts).
Finally, another study examined the prevalence and correlates of diﬀerent types of
elder abuse (physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, economic and neglect) in a
community sample of 768 elderly people aged 65 and above (mean age 71, 48.5%
female) randomly drawn using a multi-stage sampling method from Aydın, a city
in western Turkey.143 Overall, 14.2% of the respondents had experienced any form
136 Lök 2015.
137 Lök 2015, pp. 150.
138 Artan 1996.
139 Artan 1996, p. 55.
140 See Keskinoğlu, Pıçakçıefe, Bilgiç, Giray, Karakuş & Uçku 2007; Keskinoğlu, Giray,
Pıçakçıefe, Bilgiç & Uçku 2004.
141 Keskinoğlu et al. 2007.
142 Keskinoğlu et al. 2007, p. 724.
143 See Ergin 2012; Ergin, Evci-Kiraz, Saruhan, Benli, Okyay & Beşer 2012.
558 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
of abuse and neglect within the last 12 months. For the 768 elderly people, the pre-
vious year’s prevalence rates for psychological abuse, neglect, ﬁnancial, physical
and sexual abuse were 8.1%, 7.6%, 3.5%, 2.9% and 0.4% respectively. Perpetrators
of physical abuse were mostly children (68.1%), followed by spouses (12.9%) and
5. Public and/or Media Discourses About Victims,
Victims’ Rights and Victimisation
As in other countries,145 it also seems that in Turkey there are no clear and indis-
putable deﬁnitions of harm, oﬀender and victim. Research on public perceptions
of crime in Turkey is scarce. However, the available evidence suggests that – as in
other countries – certain harmful acts, such as violent assault and property crimes
(e.g., child molestation, rape, murder, robbery), are routinely recognized as serious
oﬀences, while other crimes, such as white collar crime (e.g., tax evasion, insider
trading, welfare fraud, violation of labour laws), which do not target a speciﬁc vic-
tim, are regarded as less serious oﬀences. The latter oﬀense group receives much
less media and public attention.146
Violent and sexual oﬀences, especially those committed against women and chil-
dren, have recently been subject to increased political and public attention in Turkey.
One signiﬁcant case relates to the murder of a 20-year-old female student, Özgecan
Aslan, who died whilst she resisted a rape attempt by a bus driver when she was
returning home in 2015.147 The Özgecan case led to nationwide street protests that
called for the heaviest penalty for the oﬀender. The court sentenced the oﬀender to
aggravated life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. However, to pre-
vent future victimisations, activists called for an “Özgecan Aslan Bill” which would
prohibit judges from reducing the oﬀender’s sentence at their discretion for being
“provoked” into the murder of a woman. In several cases of female homicide in Tur-
key, male oﬀenders were able to argue that they have been provoked by the victim
or that their dignity was impugned and, hence, they received a reduced sentence for
their crime. In the wake of Özgecan Aslan’s murder, the opposition Republican Peo-
ple’s Party (CHP) proposed a bill, the so-called Özgecan Bill, to introduce harsher
sentences for sexual oﬀenders and to remove the ability of judges to grant sentence
144 Ergin 2012; Ergin et al. 2012, p. 38.
145 Carrabine, Cox, Lee, Plummer & South 2009, pp. 158–159.
146 Benk, Budak, Püren & Erdem 2015. One characteristic of white collar crimes is also the
diﬀusion of victimisation which refers to the existence of a large number of victims who
are unidentiﬁable or suﬀer only a slight loss; see Dursun 2010, p. 106–107.
147 The Guardian of 04.12.2015, Three Men Get Life Sentence for Murder and Attempted
Rape of Student in Turkey; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/04/three-men-
reductions. Despite the fact that more than a million people signed a petition to sup-
port the bill, it is still under consideration.148
Another signiﬁcant case relates to the rape of a three-year-old girl in February 2018
while she was sleeping at a wedding in southern Turkey. This case sparked signiﬁ-
cant public outrage, with public discourse about crime and justice once again mov-
ing in a more punitive direction, with a broad push for zero-tolerance and the very
severe punishment of sexual oﬀenders.149 Shortly after this tragic event, the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP) responded to the public outrage by bringing
the issue to the cabinet’s agenda.150 To work on the legislative package, a commis-
sion of six ministers was formed in February 2018. In April 2018, the government
submitted a draft law which stipulated harsher sentences for child abusers.151 Ac-
cording to the draft law, the upper limit of all sexual abuse crimes committed against
children should be increased from 20 to 40 years.152 The draft law also proposes that
sexual oﬀenders who abuse children who are under age 12 will be sentenced to 30 to
40 years of imprisonment and, if they use force or weapons, to life imprisonment.153
The draft law would also enable courts to order the chemical castration of sexual
oﬀenders, based on an expert report starting three months before their release up to
ﬁve years after the release.154
However, while violent oﬀences committed against women and children attract sig-
niﬁcant public and media attention in Turkey, it also seems that even for very serious
crimes, certain characteristics of the victims, such as age, sexual orientation (e.g.,
LGBTI status) or gender identity (e.g., transgender) might adversely inﬂuence pub-
lic perception and attitudes towards victims of crime.155 Furthermore, even in very
similar criminal cases, public perception of the “victim” and the reaction against
148 Onedio of 11.02.2017, Özgecan’dan Sonra 700 Kadın Öldürüldü; ‘Özgecan Yasası’ ise
Meclis Raﬂarında Bekletiliyor; https://onedio.com/haber/ozgecan-dan-sonra-700-kadin-
olduruldu-ozgecan-yasasi-ise-meclis-raﬂarinda-bekletiliyor-755757 [09.05.2018]; T24 of
07.07.2015, CHP 1 Milyondan Fazla İmza Verilen ‘Özgecan Yasası’ için Kanun Tekliﬁ
149 The NewArab of 05.05.2018, Rape of Child in Turkey Reignites Sexual Abuse Debate;
150 Hurriyet Daily News of 25.02.2018, No Reduced Sentence for Sexual Oﬀenders: Turkish
Family Minister; http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-reduced-sentence-for-sexual-oﬀ
151 Draft Law No. 31853594-101-1545/32, 09.04.2018.
152 See Article 3 of the Draft Law No. 31853594-101-1545/32, 09.04.2018.
153 See Article 3 of the Draft Law No. 31853594-101-1545/32, 09.04.2018.
154 See Article 5 of the Draft Law No. 31853594-101-1545/32, 09.04.2018.
155 Cingöz-Ulu, Türkoğlu & Sayılan 2016; Çolak 2009.
560 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
the oﬀender might also depend on certain characteristics of the victim and/or the
oﬀender. For example, in 2009, 17-year-old Münevver Karabulut was stabbed to
death by her boyfriend and her dismembered body was left in a trash bin. Similar
to the Özgecan case, her murder attracted enormous public and media attention in
Turkey. A discourse analysis of media coverage of both cases, however, indicated
that despite the similarities between the two murder cases (i.e., victims were young
women exposed to extreme violence), the media representation of the cases showed
important dissimilarities in the reconstruction of the patriarchal discourse.156 While
Özgecan Aslan was portrayed as an innocent victim murdered by a stranger on her
way home, Münevver Karabulut was murdered by her boyfriend and thus did not ﬁt
to the stereotype of the “ideal victim” due to her “objectionable” lifestyle.157
6. Assessment and Constructive Criticism With Suggestions
It is a fact that signiﬁcant changes to the protection of victims’ rights—through the
regulations within the Penal Procedure Code, Child Protection Law and the Law on
Probation Services—have been realized through the Turkish penal law reform of
2004–2005. In particular, regulating the rights of victims in a separate section of the
Penal Procedure Code has increased interest and awareness about victim rights in
the Turkish criminal justice system. The term “child victim” is now mentioned for
the ﬁrst time in the Child Protection Law, which has resulted in various protective
and supportive measures for child victims. However, with the penal law reform of
2004–2005, the abolition of the victim’s right to claim for compensation during the
criminal proceedings is a backward step related to victim rights, despite the fact that
many international documents are foreseen to recognize this possibility.158 A further
deﬁciency is that the Victim Support Services Bureaus, which were envisaged to
be established under the Law on Probation Services in 2005, have not yet actively
come into eﬀect. The establishment of the Department of the Victim Rights within
the Ministry of Justice in 2013 is an important step with regards to the institution-
alization of the protection of victim rights. As a matter of fact, the Draft Law on
Victim Rights, which is still being debated, was prepared with the initiative of this
Department. With the enactment of the Draft Law on Victim Rights, it is expected
that a common institutional structure regarding victims, which includes the afore-
mentioned centres and special interrogations rooms, will be established. It should be
noted that ﬁnancial assistance (state compensation) for victims is envisaged by the
156 Gürses 2017.
157 Gürses 2017, pp. 544–545.
158 For example, the Council of Europe Recommendations R (85) 11 (Council of Europe
1985) and R (2006) 8 (Council of Europe 2006) related to victim rights; see Sokul-
lu-Akıncı & Dursun 2016, pp. 359–360.
draft law: thou gh this is a major reform suggestion, it is also an obstructive factor
that might adversely aﬀect the enactment of the draft law because of the burden
associated with its ﬁnancing.
Very important progressive steps taken in Turkey over recent years include the 2015
establishment of Child Support Centres to operate as residential rehabilitation cen-
tres for child victims; the 2012 establishment of Child Monitoring Centres as special
interrogation rooms in some public hospitals for child victims of sexual abuse; the
2012 establishment of VPMCs for female victims of violence (through the Law
on the Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Women); the 2017
establishment of the judicial interview rooms in the courthouses for the interroga-
tion of vulnerable victims such as children, victims of sexual crime and domestic
violence are all. All of these measures are designed to not only avoid secondary
victimisation but also to provide protection and various support services to victims
of crime. However, the number of these support and monitoring centres are not ad-
equate to cover all 81 provinces in Turkey. Currently, there are 49 VPMCs and 143
women’s shelters with a total capacity of 3,444 people. Furthermore, as of December
2017, there were 65 child support centres in Turkey, which can accommodate around
1,640 children who are victims of crime, drifted into crime or would otherwise be
living on the streets. Finally, as ofApril 2016, there were 27 Child Monitoring Cen-
tres in Turkey. Given the enormous eﬀorts of the Ministry of Family and Social
Policies, it is expected that the scope of these centres will be extended nationwide
in the near future.
Of equal importance, while it is true that both the Child Protection Law and the Law
on Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence against Women brought
signiﬁcant changes to protect and support child and women victims, no single evalu-
ation study has been conducted to determine the impact of these services on children
and women. Therefore, the question of whether or not the measures implemented
under these laws are successful is open to debate. Despite the signiﬁcance of the
discipline in developing eﬀective policy and practices for victims, a fully-ﬂedged
education in victimology in terms of theory, research and practice is absent in Tur-
key. A lack of understanding of the importance of the criminology discipline and
the signiﬁcance of sound research also aﬀect the way oﬃcial data are compiled by
Turkish authorities. The scarcity and limitations of oﬃcial data on crime victims (as
well as on oﬀenders) is therefore another serious handicap for researchers in Tur-
key. Moreover, existing empirical research in victimology is often ﬂawed in various
ways, due to issues of sampling, research design, measurement and statistical analy-
ses. Therefore, victimological research in Turkey is currently unable to guide policy
and practices. The lack of reliance on data, theory and sound empirical research
ﬁndings also reveals itself through the legislative changes and their implementation.
The EU accession process has been the main drive behind all the legislative changes
in Turkey, and accordingly it seems that Turkey adopted many measures without
understanding the theory behind them. This is perhaps most evident in the imple-
562 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
mentation of the mediation process in Turkey, which has almost nothing in common
with the restorative justice idea behind it. This is mainly because the victim and the
oﬀender almost never come face-to-face in a meeting and compensation of the ma-
terial damage to the victim is considered as adequate for the realization of restorative
justice ideal in Turkey. Further, it also seems that the main reason behind extending
the scope of mediation in recent years has been to alleviate the burden on the crimi-
nal justice system rather than to reﬂect a victim-oriented perspective.
In sum, despite the fact that various progressive steps have been taken over the years
with regards to the rights and protection of victims, victimological education and
research, though developing, remains in its infancy in Turkey. This, in turn, makes
it diﬃcult to evaluate the success of new policies and practices. In order to better
analyse the functioning of the criminal justice system and to guide future policies for
both victims and oﬀenders, Turkey deﬁnitely needs reliable and more detailed data
and methodologically sound empirical research.
The general interest in victims and victim rights is relatively new in Turkey. Penal
law reform in 2004–2005 resulted in important changes with regards to the rights
and protection of victims. Although there is currently no special law on victims,
various provisions in diﬀerent laws—such as the Penal Code, Penal Procedure Code,
Child Protection Law, Law on Protection of the Family and Prevention of Violence
against Women, Law on Probation Services and the Law on Combating Terrorism—
relate to victim rights and protection in Turkey. Recently, the government proposed
a draft law on victim rights. This draft law, which is expected to be passed in 2019,
deﬁnes a victim as a person who directly suﬀers physical, mental, psychological or
economic harm as a result of the commission of a crime. Moreover, it sets forth the
basic principles and rights of victims and regulates speciﬁc services for victims with
certain characteristics (vulnerable victim groups). The provisions on state compen-
sation for remedying the plight of victims are also regulated for the ﬁrst time in this
draft law. Furthermore, the regulations on the central and provincial organization of
the Victim Rights Department159 (established under the Ministry of Justice) are also
very important in terms of the establishment of the institutional infrastructure for
victims and will serve to protect and develop their rights.
Several governmental and state-related institutions, in cooperation with various
NGOs, deal with victim support and protection and play key roles in victimology
in Turkey. The General Directorate on the Status of Women and the General Direc-
torate of Child Services, both under the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, are
159 For the website of the Victims’Rights Department, see http://www.magdur.adalet.gov.tr
key actors concerning issues of female and child victims. VPMCs and Child Support
Centres (which function under these General Directorates) are especially important
for the provision of various services to female and child victims. Other key gov-
ernmental actors that support and protect victims in Turkey include the Ministry of
Health (through Child Monitoring Centres) especially for child victims of sexual
abuse, the Ministry of Interior (through the Department for the Protection of Victims
of Human Traﬃcking) and the Ministry of Justice (through the Department of Pro-
bation and the Department of Victim Rights). Various NGOs (e.g., Mor Çatı Wom-
en’s Shelter Foundation, the Foundation for Women’s Solidarity and the Human
Resource Development Foundation) deal with victim support and protection in Tur-
key and work in close cooperation with governmental and state-related institutions.
Yet, despite these developments, victimology is still not an institutionalised disci-
pline in Turkey. Given the status of criminology in Turkey,160 this is not surpris-
ing. It is generally taught as a selective graduate course at some, but not all, law
faculties. While there are only two text books on victimology, there is no single
academic journal in Turkey which mainly focus on victimology. Oﬃcial data sourc-
es on crime victims in Turkey are scarce. Police and gendarmerie data on crime
victims are available only for children. An examination of available data on child
victims indicates that the number of juvenile victims continuously increased (and, in
fact, more than tripled) during the years between 2008 and 2016. In 2016, 158,343
children were victims of crime. While 55% (86,519) of them were male, within
both genders, children aged 15–17 years had a higher victimisation risk than other
age groups. According to the most recent statistics available, a majority of the chil-
dren were victims of violent crimes (60% victims of assault, 12% victims of sexual
crime). Unfortunately, the available data do not include more detailed information
on child victims, such as the type of the relationship between the victim and the per-
petrator. In contrast to police and gendarmerie data, judicial statistics are regularly
published; but they reveal only the total annual number of victims and complainants
within the cases at criminal courts. These data suggest that, overall, males are more
likely to be victimised than women and that the disparity between male and female
victimisation has decreased over the years. Judicial statistics also show that while
Turkish nationals are more likely to be victimised than foreign nationals, the num-
ber of foreign victims almost tripled between the years 2013–2017. Unfortunately,
no further information is available, either on the type of crime victimisation or the
country of origin.
Turkey does not currently conduct regular victimisation surveys at the national
level. Therefore, no such data exist in Turkey about the number and characteris-
tics of victims or the extent of unreported victims of crime. There are, however, a
number of victimisation surveys in Turkey conducted at the national level which
160 See Sözüer & Topçuoğlu 2014.
564 Tuba Topçuoğlu & Selman Dursun
focus on speciﬁc type of victimisation, such as violence against women. There
are also numerous victimisation studies carried out at the local level. Given the
scarcity of oﬃcial data on victims of crime, we tried to present a picture of victi-
misation based on extant research ﬁndings. Due to limited space, we focused on
three groups of crime victims: women, children and the elderly. An overview of
empirical research ﬁndings on violence against women, child sexual abuse and
exploitation and elder abuse revealed important limitations concerning extant
research in Turkey. While a large number of studies focus on violence against
women and child sexual abuse, very few studies examine abuse of the elderly.
However, methodological drawbacks of most empirical research studies (e.g., lack
of representative samples based on probability sampling, inadequacy of research
design and statistical techniques used, reliable and valid measurement, etc.) make
it diﬃcult to get an accurate picture of either the actual prevalence rates or the risk
factors for victimisation.
Although not all oﬀences and all victimisations are considered as equally serious,
violent oﬀences, particularly those committed against women and children, attract
signiﬁcant public and media attention in Turkey. Yet, despite the fact that both public
and political interest on victimisation is increasing in Turkey (as evidenced by the
various progressive initiatives taken over the recent years), victimological educa-
tion and research, though developing, remains in its infancy. This makes it diﬃcult
to evaluate the success of victim-related policies and practices. In order to better
analyse the functioning of the criminal justice system and to guide future policies
for both victims and oﬀenders, Turkey needs reliable and detailed data and method-
ologically sound empirical research. Given the obvious link between research and
education, we pointed out earlier the urgent need for comprehensive criminological
education programmes at universities for the scientiﬁc development of the criminol-
ogy discipline in terms of theory, research and practice.161 At this point, the estab-
lishment of the ﬁrst M.A. programme in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Turkey
at the Faculty of Law of Istanbul University in the 2017/2018 academic year should
be considered a signiﬁcant step to ﬁll this gap.162 There is still no single department
that oﬀers a B.A. degree in criminology in Turkey, but we very much hope that
this programme will help advance theory and research in Turkey and pave the way
further for the institutionalisation of the criminology and victimology disciplines
161 See Sözüer & Topçuoğlu 2014.
162 Topçuoğlu 2017.
8. Summary in Turkish