The sexual abuse of minors in Turkey

The sexual abuse of minors in Turkey

The bill in Turkey which will enable “the release of sexual abuse suspects by marrying them with the victim” caused an outcry; however, Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the head of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), is “grateful” for the bill. 

Fincancı, who is also a medical doctor, has been examining and helping sexually abused children for almost 30 years. She is quite right when she said, “This bill has made the threats concerning our children more visible.”  
As a matter of fact, we have been discussing this bill for days. 

The chairwoman of TÜSİAD, the prestigious business association, Cansen Başaran Symes started her speech at the business summit in the Aegean province of İzmir, held over the weekend, not about the worrying rise of the U.S. dollar and increasing unemployment rate, but with the sexual abuse bill. She said, “The mentality of excusing the matter of children’s sexual abuse should be absolutely abandoned.”  

In the meantime, women’s associations of different views and backgrounds held meetings with cabinet ministers, there have been talk shows on TV channels questioning this issue. As writing this, several columnists, both men and women, are also writing on the topic. 

Child brides are one of the most tragic issues of this country that we as women journalists have been writing about for years. 

These victims are coming out of the dark now, and are sharing their horrific experiences with us, the victims of incest, those abused since a very young age, have been in silence for so long. 

Very recently, Turkey’s famous singer Nazan Öncel wore a black veil on stage at a concert, as a form of protest to the bill. She said she was also a victim of incest, and suffered the tragedy when she was 9. Thanks to Nazan Öncel, all segments of the society are becoming aware of incest and are questioning it. 

Canan Güllü, the head of the Federation of Women’s Associations in Turkey, conducted a survey called the “Turkey Incest Map.” She carried out the survey in every province, district and village in Turkey, to find out how common it is. 

Güllü said the frequency of incest is 40 percent. This makes us realize that no child, boy or girl, is safe at home. 

No doubt on this – Pandora’s Box has been opened, considering since 2002 until now 440,000 young girls under the age of 18 have become mothers. Within this figure, those who are under the age of 15, in other words, those sexually abused are 15,937. 

Child abuse cases have tripled in the past 10 years; 438,000 underage girls have been married, according to a data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute and the Justice Ministry.  

Unfortunately, instead of questioning why these cases have tripled over the past 10 years, there are attempts to find ways to protect sexual abusers.

For instance, in the western province of Manisa, are you going let a 68-year-old rapist marry a 4-year-old child that he raped?

I hope the parliament has understood, after so much outrage, that in the case of pardoning a sexual abuser, the number of child brides will increase, and we will not be able to protect our children against sexual abuse.