Turkish teacher sentenced to 87 years in jail decade after sexually abusing student
Ayşe Arman – ISTANBUL
A Turkish teacher has received an 87-year jail sentence for sexually abusing a student ten years ago.
Dilara Alkan Türkay, now a 22-year-old university student, was not able to understand her teacher’s sexually abusive behavior at the time. But later on she became certain of his real intentions and filed a complaint against him, along with six of her former classmates 10 years after the incident took place.
Türkay, who studies psychology at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), and her friends won the case. The teacher was sentenced to 87 years and 6 months in prison.
“Honestly, I wasn’t hopeful, because when I thought about the plight of women in Turkey and the things they get subjected to, I said to myself: ‘This case will probably be dropped and this criminal won’t be punished.’ However, it didn’t turn out that way,” Türkay told daily Hürriyet in an interview, adding that she convinced the other complainants to file lawsuits too.
“I persuaded my elementary school classmates who were also subjected to sexual abuse. We all cried at the end of the trial. We are both surprised and happy about the result and felt the joy of witnessing justice being served,” she added.
When asked if she thinks the ruling will be an exemplary one, Türkay said: “it should be.”
“This should set a precedent, and I absolutely think it will. The most significant aspect is that this crime was committed 10 years ago. I made sure that the hideous crime systematically committed for one-and-a-half years against the child Dilara in the fourth grade would get punished. The adult Dilara managed to do that. It means a lot to me. The trauma I have experienced for 10 years has come to an end, in a sense,” she said.
In the interview, Türkay said studying psychology was probably the reason for her to become aware that she was sexually abused.
“The more I read about child sexual abuse, the more I realized the weight of what I experienced. My education significantly raised awareness in me. These child sexual abuses are trying to be silenced in general. People are saying: ‘The teacher caressed you’ or ‘You misunderstood him,’ in order to avoid the issue. This is our viewpoint. We tend to ignore and forget.
However, the case doesn’t work like that for the victim. You can’t forget it! Every single day for 10 years I remembered what that teacher had done to me,” she added.
Saying that at the time she was actually aware that “something was wrong” because her abusive teacher’s actions were different compared to her other teachers, Türkay noted that she couldn’t name it because her “sexual maturity was undeveloped” at that age.
“I didn’t know what was happening because my sexual maturity hadn’t developed. I was asking myself if he was caressing me or doing something else. However, it was obviously sexual abuse and I wasn’t the only one. We were all aware of this because we were talking about the issue,” she added.
Türkay said that some of her friends who were also sexually abused decided to remain silent over social and family pressures.
When she told her parents about the incident at the time, Türkay said, their reactions weren’t “pleasant.”
“They told me that I misunderstood his actions. They came to the school and had meetings with the principal and the deputy principal. They were told: ‘We will retire him’ and him getting retired was enough for my family. It was more important not to harm the teacher’s reputation. I was a child so I was obliged to accept it,” she said.