Child protection councils to be set up across Turkey: Family minister
Child protection councils against child abuse will be set up in all of Turkey’s 81 provinces, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has said.
“We are extremely sensitive and have zero tolerance when it comes to children. We will set up protection councils for children in every province as part of new National Strategy Document and Action Plan on Children’s Rights 2018-2023,” Kaya told daily Milliyet.
Kaya said they will announce the details of the new plan in due course, which was prepared within the scope of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“We will have separate plans and solutions for every city’s child protection councils based on their specific problems. For example, if we find out that a city’s main problem is underage marriages, then the council in that city will mainly focus on fixing this specific situation,” she added.
Kaya also said they are planning to create social risk mapping, starting from Turkey’s most disadvantaged regions and the Family Social Support Program (ASDEP) will play an important role in this.
“As part of our project ASDEP social workers go and visit families to monitor their needs. They check whether there are elderly people who need help, women who are exposed to violence, or children who are not going to school. This way we assess the problems and come up with solutions,” Kaya added.
According to the ministry’s figures, ASDEP social workers visited 300,000 families in the last quarter of 2017.
Raising awareness about child abuse
Regarding preventive measures against child abuse, Kaya said they are mainly focused on training personnel from all educational institutions, as well as families and children, regarding the issue.
Kaya said they aim to reach 2 million families in the training program over the course of 2018.
“We aim at raising awareness in education personnel, families and children about the issue. Our objective is to prevent all kind of abuse cases in the first place,” Kaya added.
Kaya said they have “zero tolerance” towards violence against women and are working in cooperation with the Justice Ministry and the Interior Ministry, she said.
“From now on, the Family and Social Policies Ministry will be notified about restraining orders and we will be able to intervene to protect our women who have restraining orders,” she added.
The ministry’s aim is to focus more on preventive measures than punitive measures for both child abuse cases and violence against women cases.
Sexual abuse and pedophilia have recently dominated headlines in Turkey, following a series of prominent cases reported in the media, including the rape of a four-and-a-half-year-old girl in the southern province of Adana in February.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have responded to the outrage by calling for legal changes stipulating harsher punishments for child abusers.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has also called for the heaviest punishments for child abuse cases.