Will these wounded children be the future of Turkey?
In Turkey, one in three children suffers from extreme poverty. That is more than 7 million children in total. Out of 20 million children, 15 million cannot have a one-week vacation in a year. Almost half of them cannot eat meat, chicken or fish.
Millions of them live in homes where the rent is unable to be paid, or heating is unable to be paid, or that does not have a washing machine or television.
Poverty is more common in the east of the country, where nearly one in two children live in poverty. This figure is one in five in the west.
There are millions of children who are hungry, who are homeless, who do not have a family, who do not have access to clean water, who cannot access health services or attend school, who have to work to contribute to the household income, who get home in the middle of the night sick from exhaustion. There are millions of children whose back hurts, who develop wounds on their hands that never heal because they are forced to work constantly…
There are children who are forced to sell handkerchiefs on the streets, or collect scraps. There are children who bend under loads that are heavier than their own weight, for 25 Turkish Liras for 10 hours. They are the children of unemployed parents, who have no social security.
These children will still be working for low wages under bad conditions in 20 years. They were born poor and will grow old poor. They will lack moral, material and emotional resources. They will never be full and equal citizens.
They will be married off underage, get pregnant, leave school. Maybe they will become drug addicts. Their basic needs will not be met and they will constantly wander around half-hungry. They might get involved in serious crime. They may earn very little or be unemployed, dependent on state aid over the long term. They will turn into unhealthy, anxious and depressed adults.
They may turn into oppressed, battered and murdered women. They may turn into oppressive, violent and murderous men.
Children who have to stay in makeshift dormitories to attend school in other towns, because there is no school they can attend nearby, burn to death in fires because they cannot open the locked doors of fire escapes. They are forced to stay in unsuitable dormitories because their demand for school bus shuttles to their villages are ignored. At these dorms they are inadequately fed, made to clean toilets, or woken up in the dark to perform their prayers.
In Turkey, more than 2 million children do not attend school. We have more than a million child laborers. In workplace accidents, the past three-and-a-half years at least 194 child workers have died over. Meanwhile, over the past five years only 232 workplaces have been fined for hiring children.
Every month, 650 child sexual abuse incidents are processed at the Forensic Medicine Institute. One in four rape cases at court involves children. Every month, more than 100 girl students are sexually harassed.
There are millions of children who are hungry in makeshift homes with leaking roofs, damp walls, and broken windows.
This state is unable to shoulder the responsibility of children. This is a state that does not try those responsible people; it is one that leaves each massacre to rest so that it is forgotten. There are many criminals out there who are encouraged by this.
Those children who are seriously wounded - will they set the future course of the country?