In response to the claim that 3-year-old Dilan B. did not in fact suffocate while playing with beads, a local official, who has requested to remain anonymous, told Today's Zaman, “The baby girl's suffocation has been confirmed, but the details will be known only after the autopsy is completed.” He added, “The claim is no more than a rumor at this point.”
This claim came during the discussion of another child abuse case in Edirne -- the rape of 14-year-old Z.K., who is both deaf and mute -- when it was discovered that the girl was 14 weeks pregnant. Thirteen people, including Z.K.'s father and brother, and a 76-year-old retired teacher, were taken into custody as a result of an investigation. The rape of Z.K. was first investigated in April, but no state protection was provided to the girl, and the suspects were released. Apparently, her abuse continued, resulting in her becoming pregnant.
According to a report from consulting firm Humanist Büro, 58 child abuse cases throughout Turkey were covered in the media in just the first half of 2012. Against this backdrop, recent news, particularly the release of child abuse suspects, has caused strong public reaction, especially in social media.
Professor Figen Şahin, a child pediatrician from the Turkish Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, told Today's Zaman: “Any sexual relationship with a child under 15 is a crime according to our laws, regardless of consent. But there are problems in the enforcement of the laws, which have actually been improved since 2005.” Professor Şahin directed attention to the difference between the perception of child abuse cases in law and medicine, saying: “Our perspective is solely based on the protection of children, while the law looks for concrete evidence. In the absence of 100 percent evidence, legally the suspects might be tried without being arrested. On the other hand, children must be protected even in a case where there is 1 percent suspicion of abuse.”
A judge from İzmir, Murat Aydın, who participated in the recent International Congress on Child Abuse in İstanbul on Sept. 9-12, confirming the legal point of view requiring 100 percent evidence to keep suspects arrested. “There is a risk of the emergence of a lynch culture and the assumption that all suspects of child abuse are guilty in Turkey. This could lead to insensitivity towards a defendant's rights,” he asserted.
“The likelihood of child abuse is higher in countries with a lower socioeconomic status,” said Professor Şahin, as she indicated that increasing welfare is the first step in child protection. Both experts agree that in Turkey the problem is the detection of abuse rather than a lack of institutions that people can apply to in cases of child abuse.