Ministries investigate Istanbul hospital’s failure to report 115 underage pregnant girls
Dinçer Gökçe - ISTANBUL
The Health Ministry and the Family Ministry have launched separate investigations following a report that a hospital in Istanbul treated 115 pregnant underage girls last year without notifying authorities.
The report had caused public outcry, apparently forcing the authorities to launch a probe to shed light on the allegations.
“The incident reported by the media had previously been investigated by the Istanbul Health Board. The board had received a complaint regarding the treatment of the underage girls but it concluded that there was no need for further investigations into the allegations. However, our ministry, considering the sensitivity of the issue, has decided to launch another investigation into the allegations reported by the media and has appointed an investigator,” the Health Ministry said in a statement issued on Jan. 17.
Separately the Family Ministry also stated thawt “[Family] Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has ordered an investigation into the allegations.”
On Jan. 18, Heath Minister Ahmet Demircan vowed to carry out a thorough investigation.
“We will share the findings in the report to be submitted by the investigator with the public. We will find those responsible,” Demircan told private broadcaster Habertürk.
“This incident has legal, social and legal aspects. It is a matter that concerns the entire public. We will look into the case to see if there is any negligence,” he also told CNN Türk, adding that the information they have regarding the incident is “incomplete at the moment.”
On Jan. 17, the Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Training and Research Hospital in the Küçükçekmece district of Istanbul failed to notify authorities that it treated 115 pregnant underage girls, including 39 Syrian nationals, between Jan. 1 and May 9 last year.
According to previous regulations enforced by the Health Ministry, the police should be notified in cases where the pregnant girl is younger than 18, while cases involving children below 15 automatically qualify as “sexual abuse.”
The incident at the Küçükçekmece hospital came to light when a hospital social worker and psychologist notified the Küçükçekmece Prosecutor’s Office.
The Küçükçekmece Prosecutor’s Office had demanded an investigation into a doctor and hospital employee implicated in the incident, but the Istanbul Governor’s Office refused permission.
An investigation was launched into the anonymous hospital social worker who notified the incident to authorities and who was subsequently twice reassigned to other places of work.