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August 30, 2012, Thursday

Media’s ’Kony’s and child abuse

Children are currently being abused in the witness of everyone in Turkey. Little kids including those as young as six years of age are singing the songs written/composed specifically for adults and dancing like adults, imitating adults with their extensive makeup in illuminated TV studios. Their clothes and dance moves may even show signs of eroticism. Thus, these kids who are supposed to be under the close scrutiny of their mothers are forced to become adults at a very early age in the spotlight, while everyone is watching them. I call the TV networks, their executives, producers, announcers and jury members who shamelessly earn money by exploiting these kids the “Kony's” of the media.

No, I am not exaggerating a thing. Are those who earn money by deceiving little kids and their ignorant families any different from Joseph Kony, who established an anti-government guerrilla group, called the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), consisting almost completely of children who are forced to fight in conflicts? Kony gives weapons to the kids and puts war paint on their faces and makes them wear oversized camouflaged uniforms before sending them to war. In the early years of their lives he forces these children to kill or they end up dead. Our TV networks and producers, on the other hand, make six-years-old babies wear clothes and put on makeup like adults to end up as tools for the world of show business.

By forcing children to fight, Kony abuses them not only physically, but also spiritually. Our TV producers are destroying the spirits and characters of these kids, who are in the process of character formation, to create much bigger psychological traumas in the future. The only difference is that Kony is perceived and treated as the world's most wanted criminal after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest in 2005 for 33 crimes against humanity and war crimes, while our child abusers are applauded enthusiastically. Many world famous artists and politicians have launched an international campaign to raise global awareness about Kony by preparing a document called "Invisible Children" while our prominent artists and celebrities are lending full support to our Kony-like media figures. Let alone condemning the media's child abusers, our artists rush to become part of the ongoing child abuse by attending numerous child abusing TV programs like ATV's "Bir Şarkısın Sen" (You Are a Song).

It may be nice to listen to Sezen Aksu or Ayten Gökçer as she sings "Yalnız Kullar" (Lone People), a beautiful song specifically appealing to adults. But how can we expect six- or eight-years-old kids to sing it on ATV's "Bir Şarkısın Sen"? Please watch the following video before answering this question: What will these kids get from the lyrics of this song? If they really understand the lyrics, how will their psychology be affected? For God's sake, please tell me if the following lyrics and the like are okay for kids:

"I saw houses with grooms / They are like compressed springs / And I saw houses without grooms / They are like dried rivers ... oh God, do not leave your people alone / It is only you who can tolerate loneliness / Beautify or ugly, it doesn't matter / Give a proper husband to each of us ... to those who are longing for it / To those who are widowed at a young age / To those who have lost their charm / Give, give, give, give ... to the birds flying overhead / To the elderly who have lost their allure / To the desperate / Give, give, give, give... oh God / Give me three (Ohhhhh) / Three are not enough; give me five (Ahhhhh) / Five are not enough either; give me seven / Give, give, give, give /Give me, my God.

Numerous children are being forced to sing the song with such lyrics and worse during the program that spans over several months. Can Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is known to be very sensitive about these matters, and Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin accept that these small children are abused shamelessly and irremediably in the witness of millions of people? What about our dear officials working at the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK)? What about millions of people who are insensitive and silent in the face of this disgrace? Apparently, some parents lack awareness or sensitivity about the psychological and mental health of their children. And obviously, TV bosses, producers and certain artists do not care about anything other than the money they earn by exploiting these kids. But what about the government? The RTÜK? The nation? Where are civil society organizations (CSOs)? Why is there perfect silence against this scandal?

If the ethical criterion we may stick to in such cases is to treat everything we believe to be improper and objectionable for our kids as improper and objectionable also for other kids, then can we accept this social indifference as a sign of lack of maturity of our human values? For instance, take Pınar Altuğ, who very justifiably takes pains in keeping her small daughter Su away from media coverage. Can we say she sticks to the above-mentioned criterion by having her share in the exploitation by acting as the hostess of the program that exposes the kids of other people to extended media coverage?

And how about Metin Özülkü, who along with his wife Eda Özülkü, earned a unique respect for their model family profile, is he aware that by attending this child abusing program, he is risking his respectability? What about Ahmet Çalık, a respectable businessman known for his respect for family values? Does he know this program is dealing a fatal blow to his own reputation? Even, let us go further and ask: Is Prime Minister Erdoğan happy with the fact that ATV, a TV network known to be close to the government, is airing this disgraceful program?

So far many things have been said about the exploitation of children who are forced to sell paper tissues in the streets or clean windshields in traffic or labor in industrial or agricultural work at an early age. Even, media outlets, particularly including Aksiyon weekly, have run news stories about how the terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is employing Kurdish children aged below 18 as militants. But is the level of exploitation for kids who are forced to act like adults under the spotlight, put on makeup like adults, make erotic moves like adults, sing and dance like adults lower?

Apparently, people do not see it as a problem. As a result of a small survey, I was shocked to learn that many famous and respectable artists attended this program in the past. For instance, the former announcer of the program was Erol Evgin. Guess who acted as jury members. It is up to me to note that Ahmet Özhan, a legendary artist, has attended this program and it is up to you to guess the rest.

All experts assert that these programs have the risk of creating traumas in psychologies of the kids who attend or even watch them and these programs accommodate wrong role models for kids. Since the Tuesday morning when I commented about this matter in the social media networks, almost everyone has strongly condemned these programs. So isn't it high time such programs are ended? I am looking forward to seeing prompt action by ATV's boss Çalık, who is my fellow townsman, RTÜK head Davut Dursun, who was my professor at university, Minister Şahin and Prime Minister Erdoğan.

Previous articles of the columnist