Boarding Schools in Turkey: Sexual Violence Against Kurdish Children


Lawyer Reyhan Yalçındağ called for standing in solidarity with C.A. who has been sexually assaulted by his teacher at a dormitory in the Kurdish district of Mîdyad. The family members of C.A. have also been threatened to withdraw the lawsuit they entered against the abusers, DIHA (Dicle News Agency) reported.

“Children have been exposed to systematic sexual abuse and physical violence at regional boarding schools,” said Yalçındağ.

“The rape incidents in Kurdish cities are systematic and are not disconnected with the Kurdish issue,” she added.

Yalçındağ called for all women organizations to protest against the sexual abuse that occurred at regional boarding schools. “We should be in full solidarity with the families who have also been threatened to withdraw their lawsuits.”

Even though the number of the victims of rape committed by state authorities is rather high in the region, the Turkish judiciary system abstains from securing the justice in the suits brought against the rape defendants.

Yalçındağ said that the systematic rape cases that have been experienced in the Kurdish province of Sêrt and in many other regional boarding schools in Kurdish provinces are not unrelated with the Kurdish issue and they aim to impoverish and isolate Kurdish people.

Yalçındağ said

It will be healthier for the children who are in their teens to stay with their families throughout their education. Those children are not only exposed to sexual abuse but also to physical violence.

We should analyze the reasons for establishing regional boarding schools. How many regional boarding schools are there in Kurdistan? There are three in the Kurdish district of Çewlîg. The population of Kastamonu, which is in the Black Sea region, is three times than that of Çewlîg but why is there only one regional boarding school in Kastamonu?

The families who have been forced to migrate and whose villages have been burnt down have had to enroll their children at regional boarding schools. Yalçındağ emphasized that the Turkish state tries to rule over and assimilate Kurds through the education they give at those boarding schools.

C.A. is actually a very successful child. He was entitled to enter an Anatolian High School but was sent from the Kurdish district of Cizre to a boarding school so that he could receive a better education. Such schools have a mentality of military. Today the ruling party is the Justice and Development Party (AKP) but the dominant mentality is still the same.

The dormitory where the child was sexually abused is still open and no ministry has assigned any inspectors to make an examination on the situation in the dormitory. The teacher of the Quran course is registered as the heater attendant. And that person forces the children to watch porn movies and beats them.

The manager of the dormitory is the one who has the greatest responsibility in this case but he wanders around freely as if nothing happened. And the prosecution office has not been watchful enough in collecting evidence either.

It absolutely is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Children which was also signed by Turkey. We have filed a criminal complaint against the police of Midyat as well. They have threatened the children to withdraw their lawsuits. So it is all about the resistance of the families of children. We should make them feel that they are not alone.

What are regional boarding schools?

The first regional boarding school was established in 1939 and there has been a rise in their number since 1962.  120 thousand students are enrolled and 10 thousand teachers are employed at those schools. Students receive education from the 4th grade to 9th grade. There are regional boarding schools in many cities in Turkey but they have mostly been established in Kurdish cities in an attempt to put Kurdish children away from their families so that they will forget their own native language, learn Turkish and be assimilated into the Turkish culture.

Sexual and physical violence is very common at those schools and in 2007 the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) even suggested that the teachers to be employed at regional boarding schools should be married.