A generation who cannot hold their heads high

A generation who cannot hold their heads high

After news reports that 10 children staying at Ensar Foundation and KAİMDER dormitories in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman were sexually abused, similar stories starting pouring out from all four corners of Turkey. 

In a compilation by Çiçek Tahaoğlu from the Bianet website, 131 girls were abused in the month of April alone. The abusers were teachers, principals, vice-principals, school shuttle drivers and cafeteria managers.

Forty-four percent of those accused of abuse were arrested, while 15 percent were suspended from work, according to Tahaoğlu’s compilation. The rest are either still in their posts or have been relocated to other schools and the matter has been closed… 

Instead of facing up to what happened in Karaman and shaking up the system, we have chosen to open a new front, polarizing the issue and using it as a tool in current politics. 

This important matter was left under a pile of statements without a trace of conscience. We became desensitized, seeing one story after the other. The reports and their readership got smaller. Heads were buried in the sand. The voices of the children were not heard. 

Hürriyet columnist Gülse Birsel addressed her former schoolmate Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, who has just been appointed as the new family and social policies minister, on May 25. Birsel’s sincere call included several facts that I hope are taken into consideration. 

I also want to have my own shot, now that the topic is hot. 

I want to refer to Burcu Karakaş’s series posted the Diken website about what has been going on at a Regional Primary Boarding School in Erciş, a district in the eastern province of Van.

I want to introduce you to this system where officials turn their heads away from systematic physical and emotional abuse and humiliation. If only one sentence of what the children have said is true, the whole system needs to be completely abolished.

I wish with all my heart for this mentality to be abolished from the world, the mentality that deems acceptable such cruelty toward children entrusted to them, the mentality that whistles and looks away from these scandals.

I will not get into the issue of the teacher calling a girl a “retarded idiot,” or the teacher who mercilessly cut down the food provided for the girls. I will not get into the issue of the children who were forced to do area cleaning. I will not get into claim that the toilets were locked at night and the girls were forced to pee in waste baskets inside the dormitories and the corridors. I will not get into the systematic sexual abuse or the brutal beatings that went on... 

But I would recommend that the new minister, Mrs. Kaya, reads through all of it. 

Just listen to the words of this child, whose identity was hidden to protect her: 

“When you are a student there, you lose hope in yourself. You start thinking, ‘Nothing will become of me.’ You are robbed of all of your dreams, your expectations. I now walk in a very stooped position. My father once asked me while I was still a student there, ‘Why are you walking like this?’ But I could not walk with a straight back, with my head up high.”

Shame on the system that makes our children walk in a stooped position, unable to walk with their heads held up. Shame on those who defend this system.