Turkish authorities launch probe over reports of dozens of Syrian teen pregnancies

Turkish authorities launch probe over reports of dozens of Syrian teen pregnancies


Turkish authorities have launched an investigation after it was revealed that dozens of teen pregnancies among Syrian refugees were not reported by an Istanbul hospital to judicial institutions as legally required.

Local media reported on July 16 that Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin allowed the prosecution of 59 doctors, including a chief surgeon, at the Bağcılar Training and Research Hospital due to the latest scandal.

Since it is a state hospital, its employees, who are public servants, can only be probed with permission from civil service heads in the province, according to Turkish law.

In 2017, hospital officials failed to notify judicial authorities of at least 348 pregnant minors, a majority of which were Syrians, who applied for medical care, a criminal complaint filed on May 7 said.

The governor’s office allowed the launch of the probe on June 20, local media reported.

According to regulations that should be enforced by the Health Ministry, prosecutors or police forces should be notified in all cases of teen pregnancy under the age of 18.

Cases involving teens younger than 15 automatically qualify as “sexual abuse.”

A similar scandal at another state hospital in Istanbul was revealed by daily Hürriyet in January.

Whistleblower İclal N., who was a social worker at the Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece district, had notified the prosecutor’s office about 115 pregnant underage girls, including 39 Syrian nationals, who were treated there in 2017, while hospital officials failed to notify judicial authorities.

“Around 450-500 pregnant girls younger than 18 years old come into the hospital per year on average,” said İclal N. who has been working at the hospital since 2012.

Istanbul social worker braves consequences to leak hospital child pregnancy scandal

The Küçükçekmece Prosecutor’s Office, as well as Health and Family Ministries, had launched investigations into two civil servants at the Küçükçekmece hospital. 

Official figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜIK) have revealed 16,396 girls aged between 15 and 17 and 234 girls younger than 15 gave birth across Turkey in 2016.