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Stalking now finds its place in a separate article in the Turkish Penal Code

In 1989, American actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a fan who followed her for two years. Persistent stalking was first criminalized in the State of California, United States, after this event, in 1990. In addition to regulating this act as a crime in penal laws in other European countries, it has also started to be sanctioned in civil laws regulating family law and personal rights.

The word stalking is defined in the dictionary as the crime of stalking and watching someone for a certain period of time in a very disturbing or threatening way. Translated into Turkish as persistent pursuit, this word does not have a definition yet.

Researches on this subject show that 12% of people have been subjected to persistent stalking at least once in their lives and the victims are usually women.

With the development of technology, the spread of information systems and the increase in the use of social media also allow people to follow easily and make it easier to commit crimes in the same way. With a direct regulation in the Turkish Civil Code, this act can be appropriated by making use of the public.

After the signing of the Istanbul Convention, it is seen that the tendency to make arrangements for this act in domestic law has increased. With the article under the title of stalking for harassment in the contract, it is seen that there is an obligation to make regulations in our law in this direction. According to the relevant article: “Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that threatening acts against another person, which are repeated intentionally and intimidate that person in a way that will prevent that person from feeling safe, are punished.”

The fact that stalking is not regulated as a separate crime renders deterrence policies ineffective.

The first regulation in this context after the signing of the contract is included in the Law No. 6284 on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence Against Women and its implementation regulation. The fact that this act has not been regulated as a separate crime in the Turkish Penal Code until now rendered deterrence policies ineffective against the commission of this act. Non-governmental organizations, especially the doctrine, expressed their opinion that this act should be regulated as a crime in the Turkish Penal Code.

Following these developments, the Bill of Law on Amending the Turkish Penal Code and Some Laws dated March 16, 2022 was accepted by the Justice Commission. According to the general rationale, in order for this crime to occur, it is necessary to persistently follow up physically and persistently try to contact by using communication and communication tools, information systems or third parties. It constitutes a crime if actions are taken that will cause serious unrest to the victim or cause concern for the safety of himself or one of his relatives.

In addition, if the perpetrator appears in front of the victim at different times and places, approaches him in the environments he is in, and thus tries to make himself visible to the victim constantly, the phenomenon of stalking takes place.

The perpetrator may persistently repeat one of the above-mentioned movements, as well as show his will of persistence by repeating different movements at different places and times. Since the crime of persistent pursuit is regulated as a harm crime, it differs from the crime in Article 123, which is regulated as a danger crime.

During the perpetrator of the crime of stalking, if the acts committed against the victim constitute another crime, the perpetrator can be punished for these criminal acts. For example, if one or more of the actions taken against the victim within the scope of persistent pursuit constitute the crime of insult or threat, the perpetrator may be punished for these crimes in addition to the crime of persistent pursuit.

As the perpetrator of this crime can be anyone, most of the time the victim is exposed to the follow-up of a person he/she knows before. This crime is against the child or the spouse who has been separated or divorced; It is considered as an aggravating reason for the punishment to be committed by the spouse, against whom the decision of suspension or not approaching the residence, school or workplace has been decided.

According to the regulation, the investigation and prosecution of the crime is subject to the complaint of the victim and the crime is excluded from the scope of the conciliation institution.

Although this law amendment proposal maintains its place on the agenda, it is expected to be accepted in the General Assembly and published in the Official Gazette in the near future.

What can employers do for a victim of crime?

The telephone number and e-mail address of the worker who is the victim of persistent tracking can be changed. The employee's information on the website can be removed at least until the crime is eliminated.

If the worker is exposed to physical monitoring, the working hours of the worker may be changed. Again, in physical follow-up, measures can be taken in terms of the whole workplace, and other workers can be warned about this.

If persistent follow-up is made by phone calls from fixed company lines, the phone may not be forwarded to the aggrieved worker.

Workplace change is possible. If a service or private vehicle is available, the worker can benefit from these opportunities.

Therapy support can be provided to provide psychological assistance to the worker.

In case of physical follow-up, precautions can be taken in terms of the whole workplace, and it can be ensured that the offender is not taken to the workplace.

The employee can be made to feel that he receives moral support from the workplace.

If the stalking is carried out by another employee in the workplace, necessary sanctions and measures can be applied by the employer within the scope of protecting the employee's rights.

You can access our digital guide on women's rights, (available in Turkish) where you can access comprehensive information on the subject.