Sexual, physical violence against disabled people on the rise in Turkey: Report

Sexual, physical violence against disabled people on the rise in Turkey: Report

Sexual, physical violence against disabled people on the rise in Turkey: Report Sexual and physical violence against people with disabilities have been on the rise since 2013 in Turkey, according to a report by the Social Rights and Research Association (TOHAD). 

TOHAD based its findings in its report from 2012 to 2016 on a total of around 285,000 news articles and court decisions from around the country. 

In 2012, the number of such cases of abuse against people with disabilities was recorded at 74, whereas the figure rose to 121 in 2016, the association said. Between the years 2012 and 2016, the total number of acts of violence was recorded at 391. But in 2013, there was a decrease to 59 before hiking again in 2014 to 62.  

Of the total 391 incidents of violence, most constituted sexual assaults, with the number recorded at 191. Physical violence, neglecting, emotional abuse, inhumane treatment, and torture followed this. 

When analyzed according to age groups, 25 percent of the victims between 2012 and 2016 were under 15 years of age, 10 percent was aged between 16 and 18, 35 percent was above 19, while the other ages were not known. 

Perpetrators were mostly “acquaintances,” including family members, neighbors, relatives or public officials providing services to the disabled, which is why the assaults typically go unreported, TOHAD said. It is when the disabled woman is left impregnated or the disabled man has a physical scar on his body is usually how the incident comes to surface, the report noted. 

Some 31.20 percent of the incidents were undertaken “systematically,” it also noted.

According to the Istanbul-based association, those with disabilities who are subjected to assault are often failed by the legal system, with the perpetrator most of the time facing trial without arrest and can repeat the assaults against the victim, it said. 

It added that in many cases prosecutors do not see the need to launch an investigation against the perpetrators or they even demand a reduction in their sentences with the justification that the victims also “consent” to the sexual abuse. 

“In the report, all of the contents give the sign that the real situation is much worse. This is a dreadful situation,” TOHAD president Süleyman Akbulut told online news portal Bianet on Aug. 1. 

“There is a very serious problem that the society does not know and cannot see. When we say the problems of the disabled, the problems of access, health, and economic restrictions come to mind, but there are serious violations in the basis of living and protection of physical integrity,” Akbulut said.

“Half of the crimes are sexual assaults. But this does not mean that incidents of physical and psychological violence, neglecting, and bad treatment are rare. These are not passed onto justice due to a learned helplessness of the disabled and their inner circle,” Akbulut added.