Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data have revealed that a total of 31,890 children were victims of sexual offenses in the country last year, the T24 news website reported on Wednesday.
Of the 31,890 children, 27,739 were girls and 4,151 were boys.
The yearly number represents a threefold increase compared to the 11,095 victims in 2014. Since 2014, the number of victims has been following an upward trajectory, with the exception of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
Child abuse is a chronic problem in the country, and the authorities are frequently accused of creating an atmosphere of impunity by turning a blind eye to scandals that come to light.
Some of the allegations involve civil society groups close to the government, such as the abuse of 45 boys in houses operated in a Central Anatolian province by the Ensar Foundation in 2016. Government officials have famously made comments downplaying the severity of such incidents.
Ahead of this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allied himself with ultraconservative factions that frequently cause controversy by urging the lowering of the age of consent.
Erdoğan’s election allies were previously instrumental in lobbying Erdoğan to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women in March 2021.
They are now calling for the abolition of Law No. 6284, a domestic provision that provides protection mechanisms for women and children who have suffered or are deemed at risk of suffering domestic violence.