Children should be treated as children, not prisoners or convicts.

Jafar Kirak * [email protected]

A lot of information is being shared with the public about children being in prison with their mothers. But most of them do not have specific examples of the negative effects of prison for these children. The kids we are talking about are 0-6 years old. That children together suffer the punishment of their mother and are treated as prisoners. Their number is increasing day by day. By the end of 2021, 548 children are living with their mothers. For this age group, the emotional and physical effects of being off for twenty-four hours are innumerable. So what is this negative effect?

We spoke to Gamje Intour from Sen Collective, which conducts human rights activities for prisoners, about children, infants and mothers who are forced to continue their lives in prison. You can access the website for more detailed information provided during the interview, prisoner letters and joint activities.

Isn’t there an alternative that is compatible with human rights and in the best interests of the child? Why are children in prison with their mothers?

Gamje Yentur

Children with their mothers have three different options: First, they can stay with their mothers in prison. Second, if there is a relative outside of caring for her, she may stay with him. Third, the child is placed in kindergarten if his mother does not want to look after him. In general, mothers who do not want to be separated from their children feel that their children cannot be safe outside. Also, when the baby is at the age of breastfeeding, he needs direct maternal care.

In one of the letters we received, a mother wrote:

“I almost raised Aren here. Problems arose when he was six months old in his childhood. Although we applied for Killim-style items for kids, no solution was provided. So I bought a blanket and made it suitable for him. Of course the baby doesn’t stay within a few inches of it, he doesn’t stick himself there, he comes out of the blanket and me and my friends bring him back to the blanket. Aren is an intelligent child. He seems to have carried the weight of this place, like a heavy brother. So I don’t have a problem. “

0-6 year period when children greet the world. For this reason, this period is extremely important for the development of the baby. They need mentally and physically healthy care. This is because the effects of this period are intense for the rest of the child’s life. In particular, the traumas that he will experience spiritually are very effective in developing his personality and maintaining his life. Children need lots of stimulation. But for healthy development, these stimuli must be positive. This time is also very important for the mental and emotional development of the child. This is the period when the child begins to perceive the world, observes and feels it.

Children, especially those whose mothers are political prisoners, are not even given colored pencils. According to media reports, yellow, red and green crayons were taken from the child in Elazig prison. Although yellow, red and green mean different things according to the state, it means the color of sun, tree and fire for the baby. In fact, in many prisons, pens are not even provided. For example, children who cannot hold or draw pencils lag behind their peers. Thus, the child becomes unable to tie his shoes. In this case the child lags behind his peers physically and mentally. Children who follow their peers from behind cannot see the clouds and the sun within the four walls. They see the finite sky. Unfortunately, these objects mean nothing in a child’s life. However, the first picture we draw when we are children is clouds, sun and birds. In this way the child’s imagination becomes limited.

Do they have a house of their own, a bed?

They have no right to a bed or even to eat. However, experts recommend isolating the baby, sleeping in a separate bed from the third month of birth or even sleeping in a separate room. The child’s dependence on someone else or something during the sleep process affects the quality of sleep and the healthy learning process of the day. But children in prison have to share a bed with their mother.

Their diet …

Nutrition is very important at any age. This is especially important for children of developing age. However, the children are not given any food other than the mother. In general, although food issues are legally protected, in practice they are not properly enforced. The last paragraph of Section 4 of the Regulation on the Conduct of Convicted and Detainees and Employees of a Punishment Institution states that ‘Children are given food to convicted and detained persons, their infants in the institution, breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women. According to their circumstances and in the amount prescribed by the Ministry ‘. You see, they are breaking the law they made. So much so that even if milk is given, 1 liter is given per week. However, for a day or two a baby already needs 1 liter. Giving so little milk is not acceptable. In fact, a mother needs to eat well and breastfeed her baby in a healthy way. But the mother and baby are forced to do so with little food. During this time another important skill like speaking is learned. However, since some female captives are annoyed by the noise and noise of the children, the children express their desire in gestures. This is why children do not learn to speak perfectly.

Can there be a relationship with them outside of prison? Are there opportunities to participate in outdoor activities and socialize?

Many of them cannot meet the outside world. It is possible for them to meet, if they have relatives who will take them at the appointed time. The child who sees the outside world, gets bored at this time and sees that life inside and wants to live outside. The child who lives between the two worlds is psychologically degraded. He is shy, aggressive and aggressive. Children who cannot socialize have less experience than their peers. And in the future they become more open to outside exploitation.

Toys and games are very important for children, can they reach and benefit enough?

A toy is an essential element in the development of children. Games, toys and art materials are very important for the child’s cognitive, language, mental, social, fine motor and total motor development. All the creativity of the child is revealed and thus develops. At the same time, unspoken feelings, unspoken words, desires are thus realized. Most prisons do not have a nursery, with a two-hour tragic limit. Ward toys are not allowed for those in kindergarten. There are not enough toys in kindergartens. Children who do not have playmates should play alone or with children in the ward. However, children who cannot play with their peers cannot learn to share. Sometimes children are sent to day care alone. And it has to play alone.

In this sense, we have created a toy campaign on behalf of our team for children to stay with their mother at the request of Aren’s mother. As a result of the expedition, some of them reached their destination and some of them returned to us. Most of the prisoners we sent to the ward did not pay. Admit to your own kindergarten. But our goal was not two hours, all day playing with children’s toys. Similarly, the obligation to provide toys for kindergarten is the state’s own responsibility. It should be done by the state, not us.

In addition to these, another important problem is the neglect of children’s physical health. Not toys, children who need treatment are not taken to the doctor or given medicine. E.g. Orin could not get his medicine while he was in prison with his mother. At that time, the prison administration did not give medicine to Orin Shishu, who was in Urfa No. 2 type closed prison. Orin, who spent 24 months in prison, was later released under interrogation by his mother. Also, children in prison are sometimes asked to go to the doctor without their mother.

It’s good that you reminded me, it’s reflected in the media from time to time. Such as in the case of Blue Baby or Mirage baby. There is a social sensitivity, but then it is forgotten. Good to remind you.

Another incident that should be written as a shameful document in the history of Turkish justice system is the Blue Baby incident. The scandal that erupted with the letter that Mother Rabia Bicley wrote to us, the visible group, has been on the agenda for a long time. The mother was later placed under house arrest. However, the mother should have benefited from probation before birth. To summarize the incident:

“Rabia Baikal’s child, who was handcuffed in the hospital despite the doctor’s insistence, was deported 450 kilometers away in a ring car called ‘Coffin Holder’, before the baby’s mother stopped sewing forty years ago. Prison doctors reported that the mother and child could be sent into exile without examination.

Mother Rabia concludes her letter as follows:

“Yes, today is the 46th day of my son Mavi. The name of the dark and gray day that the world and the country is going through is Mavi. We wanted to share our experience with you so that other children and mothers would not have our experience. “

Again, the experience of Miraj baby has come to the fore for a long time. He had health problems and his care in prison was neglected. The cries of baby Mirage, who came to the prison and was not taken in while he was out with his father on another holiday, had a profound effect on all of us. The reason was that they could not let the child in after the work time was over. After the incident was reported in the media, Miraj had to take the child to his mother.

This week, we learned that a baby named Bibi, who was detained with her mother in Diyarbakir’s female closed prison, had not been given her medicine, had sores on various parts of her body because she could not take her medicine, and that it was her right to play. -In the initiative of social service, it was also blocked.

What is your solution suggestion?

First, to enforce Section 16/4 Punishment and Security Measures of Act No. 5275. The article states: “The death penalty has been suspended for women who are pregnant or have not passed 6 months from the date of birth.” This clause is often not implemented. We go one step further and demand that the mother’s sentence be suspended until the child is 6 years old. 6 months is a short time in this sense.

The UN Bangkok Rules (Article 48-52 includes provisions for pregnant, lactating women and women in prison with their children) contain detailed provisions on the conditions of imprisonment for women prisoners and convicts. All needs for food and health should be met.

Kindergarten is now a necessity. This applies to every child. This includes children who are in prison with their mothers. Necessary kindergarten education should be given to them on equal basis with other children. Outside of prison, children should be given the right to attend kindergarten.

Children who live with their mother and sleep in the same bed should be provided a suitable bed for their age and condition. Toys, colors, notebooks and books suitable for the age and development level of the children should be provided free of cost. The child should be given an opportunity to have an open opinion with his parents for a long time.

Finally, children should be treated as children, not captives or convicts.

According to all laws and principles, the best interests of the child must be observed in all cases. Mothers with children should suspend their sentence or benefit from arbitrary house arrest and examination.

* Human rights activists

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