There is absolutely no basis for the headscarf for children
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights document that has been accepted by the most number of countries throughout history. We also signed this contract in 1990, which defines all of the rights of children - anyone under the age of 18 - without any discrimination on gender, religion, social background and country. The fundamental thought that drives this convention is “not discriminating.”
Our state, which has signed this, has pledged that children will not be subjected to discrimination, will be protected from abuse, negligence, economic exploitation and will also have access to health services.
However, this pledge has not been met. Child workers, child brides, lack of education and health rights, violence and abuse are in abundance in Turkey.
We have 23 million children living in Turkey, in other words, 30 percent of our population are children under the age of 18.
We need to take this convention even more seriously than the West, because of the high rate of violations of children’s rights here.
Let's look at the situation in our country: Even though there was a drop in the number of children employed between 1996 and 2006, Turkey’s war against child labor has weakened recently. As a result, the number of child workers rose between 2006 and 2012, reaching a total of 893,000.
The number of children working in households rose to 7.5 million in 2012, up from 4.4 million in 1999. The total of children working in households and employed elsewhere has therefore reached 8,397,000.
As if that was not enough, the majority of working children are employed in the agriculture sector, which is regarded as the worst kind of child labor. They do seasonal work, live in unhealthy conditions, and cannot go to school. The number of child workers in the agricultural sector increased by 8 percent between 2006 and 2012. Children work in this sector starting from six years old. In 2013, 59 child workers died in workplace accidents.
Meanwhile, the "4+4+4" education system has rubbed salt in the wound, pulling the child labor age back down to 13 for many.
In terms of children's health, when you look at death and disease statistics, you see that the most sensitive segment in society is children. The patients in hospitals are mostly children. It is apparent that we have not been able to educate mothers adequately on child health, we have not been keen on vaccinations and we have not done enough about the nutrition of poor children.
With regard to child brides, we should actually be saying “girls who are statutorily raped,” instead of this phrase. Families marry off young girls because of poverty, and these children are treated as domestic workers in their new houses. The religious factor here is very important because, according to much of the religious segment of society, if a girl starts menstruating it means that she is mature. This pulls the age of marriage down to 12 or 13.
Of course, it is a topic that the giant-budgeted Directory of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) should prioritize. But while our state is expected to mobilize against these violations of fundamental rights, what does it do? It allows 10-year-old girls to wear headscarves at schools.
There was a basis to the objection against the ban on headscarves in universities and in public offices. There is no basis for the headscarf for children.
Is our society like playdough, shaped as wished by whoever is in power?