News ID: 138520
Published: 0916 GMT March 22, 2016

Turkish teacher may face 600-year prison sentence over sexual abuse

Turkish teacher may face 600-year prison sentence over sexual abuse

A 600-year prison sentence has been demanded for a Turkish teacher accused of sexually assaulting at least eight male students in a religious school in the province of Karaman.

The 54-year-old teacher, identified as Muammer B., had been teaching private courses to students in apartments hired by the Karaman branch of the Ensar Foundation, which reportedly has close links with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to its website, Ensar Foundation was established in 1979 to provide high quality “religious and ethical education to enrich the moral dynamics of the people,” and has tens of branches throughout Turkey.

Muammer, who was arrested on March 4, will be tried at the Karaman Court of Serious Crimes on charges of “sexually abusing a child”, “deprivation of freedom”, “deliberately injuring” and “encouraging a child to read and view obscene publications,” said Oktay Yılmaz, Karaman’s bar association head.

The incident has triggered angry reactions among social media users, many of whom think the government, which denies any involvement in the scandal, is struggling to cover up the crime.

Social media activists have launched the Twitter hashtag#StopChildRapeInTurkey to show their fury against the sexual violence.

Reporting sexual abuse in Turkey is said to be difficult as the issue is considered a taboo in the Turkish culture.

According to reports, many children are subject to sexual abuse in Turkish prisons. Turkish newspaper Dicle News published a report in 2012 on the alleged sexual abuse and torture inflicted on Kurdish children jailed at the Pozantı Juvenile Prison in southern Turkey.

The children, aged between 13 and 17, were not only sexually abused by prison officers and guards, but denied medical attention and hung from basketball hoops until close to choking as a means of torture.

"Some of our friends were raped by the ordinary prisoners dozens of times. They sometimes tried to force our trousers down. Our experiences cannot be described," claimed 15-year-old H.K., one of the victims.

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