Ruth A. Miller


This Comment suggests, first, that Turkey's new (2004) rape law is indebted to recent trends in international sexual legislation, and second, that both Turkish and international rape law are in turn the product of a century of European exceptionalism. The 2004 Turkish criminal code is a text that has redefined the Turkish state's approach to issues ranging from torture to corruption to immigrant smuggling to rape and adultery. Fundamentally a domestic document, it is aimed at rearticulating and liberalizing the state-citizen relationship in Turkey. At the same time, it is emphatically an international text-a spectacle geared toward moving Turkey one step closer to European Union membership. As such, Turkey's criminal code is arguably political-representative of a twenty-first century collapse of law into ideology and a twenty-first century variation on the primacy of the sovereign decision in jurisprudence-even as it is couched in the apparent triumph of neutral, objective European liberalism. In other words, the 2004 criminal code is simultaneously an example of the exceptionalism first theorized by writers such as Carl Schmitt. This Comment begins with a brief history of the state of exception in Europe. It then links international rape law to these theories of exceptionalism. It turns to rape law in Turkey and the ways in which this law is indebted to both international law and the European history of exceptionalism, and it concludes by asking whether Turkey's aspirations to join the European Union are worth situating the nation's rape legislation within this problematic history of authoritarianism in Europe.


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