How the Turkish state takes care of its kids
In 2012, the infant mortality rate in Turkey (for children under 1 year of age) was 0.12 percent. Between 2002 and 2012, child labor accounted for 2.6 percent of the labor force (UNICEF). In 2012, there were 893,000 children aged 6 to 17 in the labor force, and 16.6 percent of all children aged between 15 and 17 were employed. Also in 2012, 1,297,000 Turkish children aged 6 to 17 did not attend a school (Turkish Statistics Institute - TÜİK).
UNICEF also found that 14 percent of all Turkish children aged by 18 were married between 2002 and 2012.
According to a study by the think tank TEPAV in 2012, 44 out of 100 children in Turkey lived in poor households. TEPAV’s study defined a “poor household with one to 16 children” as: - Almost 90 percent cannot afford one meal of meat, chicken or fish a day;
- Seventy percent are not able to provide an area suitable for studying productively for their children; and
- Due to financial difficulties 70 percent fail to take their children to a doctor when necessary.
According to the OECD, only 32 percent of adults in Turkey aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, much lower than the OECD average of 75 percent and the lowest rate among OECD countries.
Only 43 percent of those aged 25 to 34 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, compared to the OECD average of 82 percent. Turks can expect to go through 16 years of education between the ages of 5 and 39, one of the lowest in the OECD. And in 2010, enrolment in formal care and preschool education in Turkey was at 27 percent, compared to the EU average of 82.6 percent and the OECD average of 80.6 percent.
According to TÜİK, 245,080 children were taken to security units in 2013, most of them due to an offence and misdemeanor and for being victim of a crime. At least 117,367 children were in conflict with the law with cases before a court.
Official statistics also said some 27,000 children went missing in Turkey between 2008 and 2011, 16,200 of them girls.
Against such a grim backdrop of child misery, the mighty Turkish state had to take bold action and save the country’s future. It did.
Turkey’s independent but government-controlled broadcasting watchdog, RTÜK, issued a formal warning to a private TV station, TV2, over its use of the word “God,” rather than “Allah,” in the Turkish dubbing of a foreign TV series.
In its ruling, established by a majority of the watchdog’s Justice and Development Party-appointed members, RTÜK stated that Turkey was a Muslim country and such expressions (“God” instead of “Allah”) could “negatively affect children’s perception of Allah. A warning was issued to the TV station.
RTÜK’s explanation for the warning read as follows: “Almost the whole of society in Turkey is Muslim. In Muslim societies, Allah is one and only. But it is seen that ‘God’ is used, rather than ‘Allah,’ in the saying of grace at military facilities and in broadcastings by some media organs in Turkey. Even if it is not a local production, using such remarks [in broadcasts] in Turkey during the daytime, when children could be watching, would obviously negatively affect children’s perception of Allah.”
That was so wise of RTÜK. Turkish children are now safe and well protected from the fatal dangers of hearing the word ‘God’ instead of ‘Allah.’ Now they can happily go to their factories for a peaceful day of work, earn the day’s generous $10 salary and proudly return to a shanty home with no heating; or go out to the streets to collect garbage or beg for a few dimes in the freezing cold.
It was a near thing. What if they were at home on that dreadful day and heard on TV some voice saying “God” instead of “Allah!” They are lucky that they have a government that cares about their perceptions.