ISTANBUL — Childrenare dying in Turkey at an alarming rate not only because of crimes, but also unfortunately due to negligence. The Turkish people are now up in arms so much so that Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam has been forced to hold a press conference to ease the anger. It is true that for the first time in Turkish history a government has decided to face the challenges of social problems head on, and thus, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies was established. The ministry is working round the clock to face these challenges that need coordination between various ministries and state institutions. It is no secret that Turkey is one of the leading countries where the underage marriage of girls has become a serious social wound. But now we also see child abuse and murders climbing at an alarming rate. Add to this the perennial problem of negligence, and you get these alarming statistics. It is sad that in a society that claims to hold the family in high esteem we see all kinds of abuse. It is sad that in a Muslim society where people should hold human life sacred we see murders and violence. This means something is wrong and we have to deal with it.
Two days ago, the body of six-yearold Gizem Akdeniz was discovered. She was stabbed and then torched by a young man who was angry because the family of the girl opposed his marrying the child's older sister… Cold blooded murder that erases all values and beliefs… The same day the body of nine-year-old Umut was found in a water well that was not properly protected. The boy had fallen into the well and drowned. The authorities had not sealed off this well properly… Negligence in the first degree… So our children are dying. What do we do?
First families have to take care of their little ones and keep an eye on them round the clock. We have to educate children to be extra careful and keep away from strangers, and also, families should be on the alert for potential abuse cases that not only could come from outside the family but from inside the family. State authorities and local administrations have to identify potential death traps for kids and secure them without any further delay.
We have to educate society on violence and abuses. Exploitation and abuse of children should be carefully monitored within the family and in the neighborhood, and both authorities and local people should be on the alert against potential abusers. Exploitation and abuse of children should be regarded as a capital crime, and those who are involved should be punished with life imprisonment without parole.
Instead of the current political wrangling, our politicians would be better advised to address this massive problem.