The government announced that investigations have been launched into cover-up allegations related to 115 underage pregnancies at an Istanbul hospital.
The allegations surfaced on Wednesday when media reported that two staff members discovered 115 births at Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Training and Research Hospital in the city's Küçükçekmece district were by girls under the legal age of 18, with 39 of them Syrian nationals.
Hürriyet newspaper reported that staff members filed a complaint with prosecutors when the hospital's administration did not take action about the personnel that were required to report any underage pregnancies to police. A hospital official told Hürriyet that the incident was investigated by the hospital's administration and turned out to be false, while media outlets published a list that shows the underage pregnancies treated last year between January and May in the hospital, with mothers as young as 14 years old.
Chief Prosecutor's Office in Küçükçekmece announced yesterday that it launched an investigation into the incident in October last year. It added that two hospital personnel were investigated for failure to report the crime. According to a statement by the prosecutor's office, there was also an ongoing investigation into the sexual abuse of the victims, to identify the fathers of the babies born at the hospital.
Speaking yesterday in a televised interview, Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said they were investigating the allegations and any neglect on the part of the healthcare staff would be duly punished. "Hospitals cannot block access to health services [for pregnant women], and the personnel knows what to do when they handle [underage pregnancy cases]."
Issuing a written statement, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies said they were closely following the judicial investigation regarding the issue, and the ministry was also running its own probe. "Our ministry is determined to continue its fight against underage marriages nationwide. It is our duty to protect children. After the investigations conclude, the ministry will provide psychological and social support [to the underage mothers]," the statement said.