A commission to investigate child abuse in Turkey is to be formed in parliament after huge public backlash prompted the ruling party to backtrack from its previous position of blocking opposition party attempts to have the commission formed.
Days after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) blocked efforts by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to initiate an investigatory commission in parliament in child abuse; parliament’s general assembly accepted a unanimous vote to initiate the commission. The commission will be made up of 15 members and be active for 3 months.
The move comes at a time when Turkey was recently shocked to its core with the news that a teacher in Karaman province had sexually abused 45 children. The incident which is claimed to have taken place as the boys were staying at houses operated by the Ensar Foundation as well as the Karaman Anataolian İmam Hatip and İmam Hatip Graduates and Members (KAİMDER).
The defendant Muharrem B., (54), who has been charged with “sexual assault of a minor”, “deprivation of freedom” and “coercing a minor to read and watch obscene material”, was taken into custody on March 4 and later arrested. He now faces up to 600 years in prison.
However many AK Party officials have taken to defending the foundation which has been mired in the allegations, Ensar Foundation, which is known to have strong ties to the family of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Minister of Family and Social Policies, Sema Ramazanoğlu faces intense backlash from the public after stating that the sexual abuse incident in Karaman was a “one off thing” and the Ensar foundation should not be criminalized.
“Running into an incident like this just for once cannot be a reason to give bad name an institute which has come to the forefront with its services” she said in response to question as to Ensar Foundation whose teacher is accused of raping 10 children.
Similarly one AK Party deputy Nihat Öztürk said he would continue supporting the Ensar Foundation out of spite.
Speaking in front of the foundation recently Öztürk said, “we are here today to support the Ensar Foundation. We have no qualms. This foundation is a civil society organization like the others and has been undertaking successful projects.”
“There is some jealousy, towards the foundation, I’m aware of that. We will continue to support the Ensar Foundation” he said.