36.4 percent of children in Turkey severely deprived

36.4 percent of children in Turkey severely deprived

Even though April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is still the only children’s holiday in the world, it is not the same holiday of my childhood. 

Children’s Day, which was first celebrated in 1927, had the aim of making orphaned and poor children of the war era happy in a festive atmosphere. Unfortunately, after so much time, we are far from making children happy. 

Several reports released one after the other before April 23 has openly revealed this. 

I will start with the report from the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) titled “Being a Child Laborer in Turkey.” According to this report, the number of child workers in Turkey has reached 2 million. Because current data on child labor only covers the age group of children between 15 and 17; it does not include those under 15 and those who work as seasonal workers in agriculture. 

Child workers between 15 and 17 have been increasing since 2012, and 78 percent of them are not registered. In other words, eight out of 10 working children are not registered. 

According to the same report, in 2016, the number of child laborers who lost their lives while working is at 56. 

On the other hand, Seyfettin Gürsel, a professor, and his team from Bahçeşehir University’s Center For Economic and Social Research (BETAM) conducted a survey focusing on children living under material deprivation. According to the findings of the survey, 7.2 million children in Turkey live in households suffering from severe material deprivation. 

In this sense, when compared to Europe, Turkey is behind those countries that have a lower per capita income and countries affected by economic crises. 

While the material deprivation of children in Turkey increased from the west to the east, more than half of the children in Turkey’s southeast belong to this category, which are families who cannot properly feed themselves, heat themselves and pay their rents. 

Material deprivation has nine criteria and if four of them are not met, then the household is defined as severely deprived. The rate of children under this category is 36.4 percent. In developed countries such as Germany and France, this rate is around 4 or 5 percent. In Greece, which is suffering an economic crisis, this rate is 25.5 percent. 

Even if we achieve a better performance in economy than Greece, the rate of happy children in Greece is much more than our children.

In Turkey, 75.8 percent of children live in families that cannot afford a one-week vacation away from home. 

We have learned from the Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA) that an estimated 200,000 children living in Istanbul have never seen the sea in their lives. 

According to the same survey, almost 40 percent of children living in Turkey cannot eat proteins such as meat, chicken and fish every other day; 47.5 percent of children live in households where the rent, electricity, water and gas bills and credit card payments were not paid as planned in the past 12 months. 

What kind of a future is there for Turkey, in the land of unhappy children?