Sexual Violence and Abuse
Rising global concerns: Sexual violence against children is an issue that has only recently come out of the shadows worldwide. It is now recognised that the effects of sexual violence and abuse against children range from temporary distress and sense of guilt to long-term injury and trauma and risky sexual activity or abuse of others later in life. Sexual violence and abuse can also have significant secondary effects. Rape victims may face rejection or even murder by their families (see also section on honour crimes, above). When criminal charges are brought, victims may face disturbing legal proceedings including repeated medical examinations and confrontations with their assailants (see also juvenile justice, above). Babies born as a result of rape or incest may be killed or abandoned or may grow up in very difficult circumstances.
As in other countries, concern about sexual abuse of children is on the rise. More public awareness is required and an adequate response needs to be developed.
Forms and prevalence: Cases of children – especially but not exclusively adolescent girls - being raped or molested by strangers, or by people they knew and trusted, are reported in the Turkish media from time to time. Girls who leave home may face multiple rape and/or attempts to sell them into prostitution. Incest is probably the most common form of sexual abuse against children and is known to affect girls and boys over long periods and from a very young age. There appears to be a market in Turkey for pornographic material involving children, but the production of the pornography is generally assumed to take place abroad. According to landmark research published in February 2009,190 7 percent of the women interviewed reported that they had experienced sexual abuse before reaching the age of 15. The nature of the abuse was not specified. The research conducted by UNICEF and the General Directorate for Social services and the Child Protection Agency (SHCEK) into violence against children (summary available at http://panel.unicef.org.tr/vera/app/var/files/c/o/cocuk-istismari-raporu-eng.pdf) suggests that at least 10 percent of children between 7 and 18 have been witnesses to some form of sexual abuse, with at least 1 percent forced to look at pornographic material and at least 0.5 percent forced to engage in sexual behaviour such as touching or being touched.
Policies: Accepting the existence of sexual violence against children and beginning to discuss it is a positive step. A recent report on incest191- the first of its kind - recommended the training of guidance counsellors, improved awareness of legal professionals, delivery of mental assessments by specialists and the establishment of multi-disciplinary centres at healthcare institutions that bring together paediatric specialists, child mental health specialists, forensic specialists and social services experts as key elements of a response. It is possible to make young children aware of the risk of sexual abuse and how to respond to it. Those in contact with children need to be able to recognise the symptoms of child abuse, which otherwise can go unnoticed for years. Sexual violence and abuse against children needs to be addressed in the context both of efforts to end violence against women and of broader efforts to protect children facing violence and other adverse situations.
 Directorate General of the Status of Women: National Research on Violence against Women in Turkey
 UNFPA/Population Association: Understanding the Problem of Incest in Turkey, 2009 references, all