The Children's Rights Act was established in 1917 with the aim of protecting children. It was not until 1924 that the act was accepted and recognised by the League of Nations
Zuhal Karabaş Eyüboğlu
ISTANBUL — Cotton candy, leblebi tozu (chickpea dust), caramelized apples, bubble gum and macaroons are the most popular things we as children liked to eat. For those like me who grew up in the 1980s, this list goes on and on.
I remember how well we knew our limits on consumption of these useless foods. We were small, but we still bought our own junk food.
We would walk to the store and look up to the shopkeeper's face, never once considering that we were in a foreign place. We could play ball, hide-and-go-seek, ride bikes and skate two or three blocks away from our houses.
It was our neighborhood and we felt secure in it. Now we have restricted our children's space. Now we create small spaces of freedom for them behind the protection of walls and fences. Sadly, the concrete we pour in our cities to deal with the growing population restricted our living space. The blocks created by our apartment buildings are starting to become too small for us. Sitting at a desk and working for nine hours is against our human nature. Alas, because of this we are unable to free ourselves from the muscle aches, allergies and throat aches that plague us. Eventually, we will have enough of this lifestyle and open our world to the healthy, nature-filled life that comes with small villages. Because we and our children deserve a healthy, free and happy life.
Special attention to children
Movements emerged at the start of the 20th century to endorse how children deserve different rights from their adult counterparts and how these rights should be recognized. The first of these movements started in 1917 by an organization that produced the Children's Rights Act. The first real action came in 1924 when the League of Nations accepted the Geneva Children's Act. This would go on to be accepted by the United Nations in November 1959 and further broadened on Nov. 20, 1989.
This act was accepted by all member nations except the U.S. and Somalia, with 193 member nations ratifying it. Today, we celebrate Nov. 20 as Universal Children's Rights Day. In addition to this, different nations host their own children's day celebrations.
In Turkey, our Republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk announced April 23 as our National Children's Holiday. According to the Children's Rights Act, all children are equal. Below are additional provisions from the act.
- All individuals are considered children until the age of 18;
- All children are guaranteed the right to the best possible healthcare and medical treatment standards;
- Children have the right to freedom of thought.
All actions necessary to provide their equality must be executed;
- All legal and preventive measures must be taken to ensure the protection of children from psychological and bodily harm;
- Measures must be taken to aid physically or mentally disabled children to raise their self-confidence and integrate them into regular society; and
- Each child has the right to an education and action must be taken to provide them with the best possible quality and equal educational standards.
Education is one of the most important rights of a child. According to the U.N.'s Children's Rights & Emergency Relief Organization (UNICEF) 1999 report, one of the top causes of infant mortality is poorly educated or illiterate mothers. In other words, infant mortality rate will drop in ratio with the number of educated women. The clauses cited from the Children's Rights Act and UNICEF's 1999 report back my fears about Turkey. I desire a much more modern Turkey where there are no child brides, all girls have the opportunity to attend schools and all live in a peaceful atmosphere without discrimination based on race, religion or sect.
I desire a Turkey where children are not abused, where everyone has equal opportunities when it comes to education and where children, babies and adults are not killed as a result of traffic accidents, blood feuds or neglect. I desire a Turkey where there is no anxiety or concern about the future, where children are valued and raised without fears, with children whose eyes gleamingly shine with hope. We all have a right to lead a peaceful life.