Sexual abuse all around Turkey
Mass sexual abuse occurred in a village school near the western city of İzmir, which was only discovered thanks to a courageous teacher called Saadet. Saadet tried all official and legal remedies and finally she reached out to Canan Güllü, the head of the Federation of Women Associations of Turkey (TKDF).
The help line of this federation is doing a tremendous job. It does what the state does not do. It follows up on harassment and rape cases all around Turkey and offers all kinds of assistance to the victims. You can contribute to help the TKDF via tkdf.org.tr.
After her interview with me was published last weekend, teacher Saadet said she had received many calls from women’s associations and others who want to help abused children and their families. Parents have called to offer help.
Several teachers have also called, telling her that the same thing has happened to them. But many are scared to talk because if they do they may be relocated by the school authorities.
“I am sure they are telling the truth. There are many examples. One should not keep quiet,” Saadet told me.
“Still, among all the positive reviews a couple of people asked me ‘how much money I took.’ One person told me that I look like a photo model and said I was only saying this for fame. But my only concern is the children. And I want to raise awareness in Turkey. I want women to stand up and talk. I want strong women who are not afraid to express themselves,” she added.
Dimensions of sexual abuse
TKDF head Canan Güllü said they were informed of the mass sexual abuse at the village school thanks to a call to their help line. (The number of the help line, open to international calls, is 0212 656 9696.) Saadet, after seeking support from all kinds of other institutions, eventually turned to the TKDF.
After news in the media of the suicide of Cansel, a student who was abused by her teacher, calls to the line increased. “
“We actually took over this line from daily Hürriyet’s campaign line on abuse. We are now assisting all those who cannot find support elsewhere concerning violence,” Güllü said.
The TKDF hears of many rape cases that are hushed up. There are many incest cases. There are cases of abuse concerning social traditions or family honor. There is a sexual abuse case at an Istanbul school in the Bahçelievler district. They are trying to cover it up so the name of the school is not disclosed. There is a child abuse case at Ankara Şereflikoçhisar.
For those readers who want to contribute, the TKDF, of course, needs financial support. In order to keep functioning 24/7, the line needs 7,000 Turkish Liras per month. It is also looking for psychologists and lawyers.
Güllü thinks that in Turkey “sexual hunger” has reached incredible dimensions.
“There are no specific criteria that I can use to define this hunger, but it is a reality. We are in a pathetic situation. Sexual education is exceptionally important but here it is not even among the priorities. Everything is linked to shame and sin,” she said.
“Look, today, any one of us, when we step out to the street, is face-to-face with a potential harassment or rape. This is the situation of the country. If you say, ‘We should have segregated public transport, with men and women traveling separately,’ then you are contributing to this massive sense of sexual hunger. If you say an 8-year-old girl can marry; if you say, ‘Don’t wear lipstick, you’re creating sexual desire. Don’t wear miniskirts. Don’t be outside at 3 in the morning or you will encourage rape’; if you say ‘a woman is only half if she has not given birth,’ then you are contributing to this massive sense of sexual hunger,” Güllü added.