Sex offenders may walk as lawmakers mull releasing one in three Turkish prisoners

As the coronavirus pandemic continues worldwide, Turkish authorities are drafting measures to reduce the nation’s prison population in an effort to stop the disease from spreading among inmates.

On Tuesday, lawmakers with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party and the allied Nationalist Movement Party submitted a law proposal to opposition party members that would release about 100,000 of the nation’s 300,000 inmates, switching select convicts’ jail sentences to extended probation periods to relieve overcrowded penitentiaries.

The measure has drawn sharp criticism from women’s rights groups, who note the draft law would reduce punishments for sex offenders and convicts of gender-based violence, potentially endangering women, children and victims of domestic abuse across Turkey.

Gulsum Kav, a spokesperson for the Istanbul-based We Will Stop Femicide Platform (Cinayetleri Durduracağız Platformu), said reports of domestic violence have increased in recent weeks as women are stuck indoors with abusive family members amid the coronavirus pandemic, and that releasing offenders would only worsen Turkey’s circumstances.

“As we’re trying to take precautions to reduce violence against women in this pandemic, this draft law is doing the complete opposite and we find it absolutely unacceptable,” Kav told Al-Monitor.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.