Social media was awash on Tuesday with comments condemning the verdict in a sexual abuse case.
The plight of two children, at the ages of seven and 10, hit the headlines again when drawings children made to portray the abuse they suffered surfaced online.
Under #ElmalıDavası (Elmalı Trial) hashtag, social media users vented their frustration at the verdict, which ruled for the release of the children’s mother and stepfather, who were accused of abuse in the Elmalı district of the southern Turkish province of Antalya.
Though the verdict was monthsold, the trial is still underway and crude drawings showing “father” and “mother” hitting children with various objects incited public outrage over the issue. The government announced that the legal process was being “monitored” and that the children were given “support” while prosecutors said in a statement that a final verdict has not yet been issued in the case.
The sexual abuse allegations emerged from a complaint of the children’s grandmother, who filed a legal complaint in May 2020, claiming her grandchildren were abused by their mother, mother’s brother and their stepfather in 2019. An investigation was launched and a civil lawsuit was filed in July 2020. The children had testified under the supervision of psychiatry experts as part of a procedure that encourages children to draw a sketch of the crime they were subject to if they are unable to speak. Last January, a court ruled that the defendants can be released with judiciary control, due to “conflicts in testimonies and the fact that all evidence in the case was properly collected.” Judiciary control is a type of probation that can include house arrest (home detention), limitation on leaving a certain territory and prohibition of entering certain localities, places or defined areas. Prosecutors objected to the verdict, and the next hearing in the case is scheduled for September.
Upon the recent outrage, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies announced that they were involved in the case and that the ministry’s lawyers were working to convince the court to deliver the “harshest sentence” for the defendants. The ministry said their social services were also “supporting” the children.
“These horrible people should be given the harshest sentence. We will monitor the legal process for justice,” Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın tweeted on Tuesday. “Common conscience is as important as written rules of law. Documents (of evidence) are clear in the Elmalı case. It is a must to avoid the verdicts that can be perceived as tolerance of child abuse in this horrible case,” Kalın tweeted. Ömer Çelik, spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) echoed Kalın’s sentiments and vowed to support the children and observe the process.