Ankara – Many Turkish children enter prisons surrounded by iron bars on April 23, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. According to the Ministry of Justice, 396 children aged 0-6 are in jail with their mothers. A total of 2,008 children between the ages of 12 and 18 have been detained and convicted across Turkey.
Burku Chelik Ozkan, a former HDP deputy and human rights lawyer, is one of thousands of women imprisoned with her child in the past. Ozkan’s child, who was arrested in 2017 and spent nearly three years in prison, was also detained with his mother at regular intervals between the ages of 3 and 6. Mentioning that her child was in prison on April 23 and many other special days, Ozkan said that a child should not be in prison for even five minutes:
“Prison is not a place where people can live, but we hurt a lot about children. It is a process where many rights of a child, starting from the right to play, are violated, not physically or in any other way. Social relations. Deprived of. He can run, have fun and see the big sky. “Sometimes he has to work with space given to him by four walls. He felt it deeply and deeply. Prison is not a place where children can stay for even five minutes. “
‘Why are we here?’
According to Ozkan, when his child was in prison, he was confronted with questions such as “Why iron here?”, “Why is this place locked”, “Why can’t we go elsewhere (other wards)?” Ozkan said that as his child grew older, he was faced with a much deeper question than “why can’t we go to the market, we can buy it ourselves” and explained the process as follows:
“The worst thing is that after a while he asked me for an account. I got the question ‘why are we here?’ I will not come after that. If you want to see me, come. For me, it was one of the hardest moments I ever spent in prison, when I couldn’t find a solution. He faced so much love. Didn’t we all become flowers or insects, did we draw on the walls? Even though we did, we know the baby felt deeply stuck in one place. “
‘I was controlled to show him if I grew up and left in a moment’
Saying that her child is now 8 years old, the effects of the prison process have been revealed in various ways today and that she has been affected by the situation, Ozkan spoke of her experience today:
“I’m currently working on human rights. Recently, he asked, ‘You say you work for the people, so why were you arrested? Did you do anything bad?’ He sometimes asks, when faced with very negative things outside, he says, ‘Mom, what was good?’ He compares with age. He has a very different outlook and a lot more emotional than his peers. He has now turned his feelings into art and we can see traces of that time in the pictures. He suddenly comes home and hugs me and says he doesn’t want to. I’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through a lot. “
‘Basic needs of children cannot be placed in prisons’
According to Kansu Shekersi, a representative of the Civil Society Association of the Penal Execution System (CISST) Child in Prison Network, the most urgent and basic need of children aged 0-6 is not to be imprisoned. “We argue that incarceration is not part of the rehabilitative justice system, even for children who are in conflict with the law and not part of the rehabilitative justice system, but we also support that children aged 0-6 should not have experience with their mothers.” ” Shekersi said the law provides for various judicial controls for women prisoners, that judicial control should be mandatory for these women instead of detention, and that alternative death sentences should be introduced instead of imprisonment for convicted women.
Recalling that in recent years the Ministry of Justice has begun to establish some units for children, Shekersi said, “One of these is in Ankara and the other in Diyarbakir বিবে considering the population aged 0-6 in prisons, it does not include ৷, but when we look at the ministry’s promotional announcement, We see that there are more suitable areas for children. Prisoners. “Although it is said that he has begun to be admitted, we have not seen any transfer from prisoners or from them. The family is really about it, “he said.
‘Psychological support children can’t even access play rights’
Asked what steps have been taken towards the psychology of children in prisons and what kind of support they need, Shekersey said: “Prison psychosocial services are expected to monitor these children and their mothers, but there is a structured system. How can a group of children benefit from these services, ”he said.
Noting that they have seen in various publications that mothers have been informed about childcare, but there is no psychosocial support that will specifically ensure their well-being, Shekarsi said, “On the contrary, they face more difficulties because they are actually in detention and They are treated as prisoners considering the social opportunities they can access. These children do not even have the right to play, “he continued.
It takes skill and knowledge to explain what a child might need in early childhood. If we ask, “What kind of help do they need?” Or there may be a caregiver who can help the mother – nature, the right to play, healthy food, peers and a safe place where they can express themselves.
‘Prisons are made for adults, they are not suitable for children’
HDP Kokeli Deputy Omer Farooq Gergarliolu is a deputy who often brings up the issue of children in prisons under the roof of Parliament. Noting that juvenile detention continues in Turkey, Gergarliolu has visited many prisons during this period and recorded the problems experienced by children.
Recalling that more than two thousand children between the ages of 12-18 are in prison as convicted or detained, Gergerlioğlu said, “We have seen that they live in places that are not suitable for children and that are not positive for their development.” Do you have a problem? ‘ “When we asked them, they could not reveal themselves. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 should be treated differently. They should not deserve these punishments and children should not be dragged into crime, “he said.
“It’s called Children’s Day, but Turkey has gained the experience of the Turkish state,” said Gergarlioulu, emphasizing that children whose parents are in prison and those who are with their relatives and children who are in prison with their mothers are living in dire conditions. Emergencies where most children between the ages of 0-6 are in prison. “The number of children in prison has increased dramatically in the last six years,” he said.
“Prisons are designed for adults, they are not suitable for children and infants. It is a place with steep stairs, carpets and bars. Children want open space, they want to run around, but they can’t run wherever they want. Playgrounds and toys. “There are deficiencies. The children are not getting proper nutrition. Sometimes it can be difficult to get to the doctor. The mother sometimes gives the child to relatives, then takes it back. As the children come and go, they are negatively affected by this situation.”