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Uncle imprisoned for sexually assaulting three sisters set free, fight for justice continues

For over a decade, I remained silent about the abuse I endured at H.i.’s hands, convincing myself that my aunt’s husband’s behavior was normal. After all, he was family. At the age of seven, Harry touched me inappropriately and exposed me to explicit content. I blamed myself, wondering, “Is it because of how I look?”

  • 1 week ago
  • May 11, 2024
8 min read
With the support of their mother, three sisters took their uncle to court for sexual abuse, where he received a 26-year prison sentence that was recently overturned. The girls continue to fight. | Representative image courtesy of Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels With the support of their mother, three sisters took their uncle to court for sexual abuse, where he received a 26-year prison sentence that was recently overturned. The girls continue to fight. | Representative image courtesy of Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels
One of three sisters in Turkey who was sexually assaulted by their uncle fights the court system after their perpetrator is freed.
Journalist’s Notes
Interview Subject
Orato World Media has granted the interview subject anonymity for her protection. While her name remains confidential, the subject has agreed to show her face (and does so on her own social media.). Known as Tugce online, the 23-year-old hails from Adana, Turkey. She allegedly endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle. Her younger sisters also confessed to being abused. After four years, the perpetrator’s 26-year prison sentence was overturned by the Court of Cassation, and the defendant was acquitted in the retrial. The original charges included sexual abuse of a child, sexual abuse of a child by sodomy, and deprivation of liberty. The verdict was reversed on the grounds that evidence did not establish the commission of the specific crimes cited, not to say that abuse did not occur. Tugce is currently pursuing studies in social services in the hope of helping other sexually abused children in Turkey. They are awaiting a decision by the supreme court on the victims’ appeal.
Background Information
According to statistics released by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Turkey for the years of 2022 and 2023, a staggering 92,123 crimes were reported concerning the sexual abuse of children. This alarming figure underscores the pervasive and pressing issue of child sexual abuse within the country. Unfortunately, Turkey has witnessed numerous instances of injustice, with many cases of child sexual abuse being dismissed due to insufficient evidence. The lack of resolution in these cases has left a significant portion of the population waiting for justice to be served, highlighting the urgent need for systemic reforms and improved mechanisms to address and combat child sexual abuse effectively.

ADANA, Turkey ꟷ As we sat down for dinner with my family, my five-year-old sister said, “I’m glad [uncle] isn’t here.” She continued, “I don’t like him at all.” I felt taken aback. I never knew my uncle to do anything to my sister, but I wondered, “Did he?” H.i. [the public initials used to refer to the perpetrator in media coverage of the case] and my aunt always came to the house to eat with us. On this rare occasion, my mother, sister, and I enjoyed time alone. I hid my frustration to help my sister feel comfortable talking.

When my mom returned to the table, she sensed something was wrong. Turning the eerie situation into a game, we told my mom it was a secret between us. We agreed to talk later in private. After dinner, I went into my sister’s room as she played with her toys. I asked, “Why don’t you like H.i.?” She hesitantly revealed he kissed her on the lips against her will. The revelation caught me off guard and an anger rose up inside me. I reassured my sister she was safe and promised to protect her. Then, I allowed my anger to become the driving force on our journey for justice. Mustering up my courage, I told my mother what happened to my sister, and also to me.

Read more stories from around the globe in the Sex & Gender category from Orato World Media.

Victim carried sexual assault a secret for 11 years

For over a decade, I remained silent about the abuse I endured at H.i.’s hands. I convinced myself my aunt’s husband’s behavior was normal. After all, he was family. At the age of seven, H.i. touched me inappropriately and exposed me to explicit content. I blamed myself, wondering, “Is it because of how I look?”

When he arrived at my house; I messed up my hair to make myself unattractive. Yet, the abuse never stopped. When my five-year-old sister spoke of her own experiences with H.i., I had to take action. I could not bear the thought of her suffering the same fate. The very next day, my mother went to the police and the prosecutor’s office, then returned to pick my sister and I up from the house. During that ride, with a police car following us, I felt the safest I had in a long time.

At the Child Advocacy Center, we gave our statements. I watched my little sister shake visibly as she recounted the events. Back home, she began to cry. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I wondered; how many children keep silent. The next day, we returned to the center, this time with an official present, and they took our statements again. My younger sister surprised us when she revealed she told our 10-year-old sister about the abuse.

A sense of shock set in. We began to learn our middle sister also suffered from H.i.’s abuse. We left the center to pick her up at school and return so she could offer a statement. When I discovered all three of us lived in silence, enduring the same horror, my heart broke. Yet, with the support of the authorities and one another, we finally spoke out and sought justice.

During interviews, family realizes perpetrator abused all three sisters

In the aftermath of our agonizing revelation, I found myself thrust in a labyrinth of despair. I grappled with the weight of shared trauma. While the government officials diligently attended to the legal aspects of our case, their support in navigating the treacherous terrain of psychological healing remained conspicuously absent. That void left us to face the daunting task on our own. It felt like a formidable task made more difficult by the uncertainty that loomed over us.

Yet, I felt a fierce determination coursing through my veins. I embarked on a relentless pursuit of restoration. Scouring every corner of life for a beacon of hope, I sought to illuminate our path forward. On that journey, fraught with setbacks and obstacles, I felt fueled by an unwavering resolve. I needed to reclaim the shattered fragments of our souls.

During that time, I made a solemn promise to my sisters. I vowed that they would no longer be subjected to the horrors that plagued our past. I would stand as an unwavering guardian – a bastion of strength in the face of adversity. With trembling hands intertwined, we ventured into the unknown, guided by a flickering light of hope that burned fiercely inside us. The path was marked by moments of despair and desolation, but it was always tempered by our determination. We would emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.

I enrolled in coursework in social services at university, intent on serving children whose fear and pain kept them silent. As each day passed, I felt my resolve growing stronger. Then, one day, the authorities apprehended H.i. and placed him in custody – setting in motion the wheels of justice. The darkness began to lift as we moved toward closure and redemption.

Abuser receives a 26-year sentence

At 18 years old, I stepped into the courtroom for the first time. Ill-prepared for the reality awaiting me, I encountered a scene unlike the glossy portrayals of courtrooms in movies. With a trembling voice and shaky nerves, I confronted my abuser, piercing his façade of power. I felt determined to show him he could not shatter us.

Standing before the judge, I felt the weight of every word I uttered, words to be immortalized in court documents. I implored the judge to consider the impact of his decision. It would inevitably echo outward, through the lives of countless children across our nation. This resolution could help abused children find the courage to speak out.

It took a month, but when the call came that the court reached a decision, justice prevailed. H.i. received 26 years behind bars – a fitting sentence for the atrocities he inflicted upon us. I felt the shackles of trauma loosen their grip, tasting freedom after what felt like an eternity of fear.

As the burden lifted from my shoulders, sheer euphoria coursed through me. An overwhelming sense of relief and vindication followed. As my mother, sisters, and I celebrated, our laughter echoed through the quaint restaurant where we sat. We cheered to a new beginning. That day marked a turning point in my life, from dark to light. It felt like the day I reclaimed my power, voice, and dignity. On that day, I came to believe that no matter how formidable forces of evil may be, they stand no chance against the unyielding human spirit. Still, I never expected what would happen next.

Court overturns decision

Four years after H.i.’s sentencing, the courts delivered a devastating blow, dashing our hopes. Despite overwhelming evidence painstakingly gathered by law enforcement, in a moment of cruelty, the higher courts set our abuser free. I witnessed a stark disparity between the legal process and actual justice. Grappling with this bitter realization, I saw how the scales can easily be tipped.

In the wake of this staggering setback, a new legal process began. It culminated in an appeal to the Constitutional Court in Turkey. I realized the fundamental importance of not only hearing but valuing the voices of our most vulnerable. We did not feel valued, and at that point, I made a decision. With trembling fingers and a heavy heart, I took to social media. I wanted to share our story, harnessing the public’s attention.

My plea reverberated across platforms, sparking a groundswell of support, including from the Ministry of Family Affairs. We ignited a movement across cyberspace. Messages of solidarity flooded in, and I dared believe our pain could serve as a catalyst for change. With each new message, my resolve strengthened. “We need to do something,” I declared, “We need to be the voice of the children. We need to give them hope and courage to speak up, so that this nightmare will never again darken the doorstep of another innocent soul.”

With my perpetrator free, I feel a sense of righteous indignation, resolved to confront injustice. We will march forward regardless of the obstacles, in a quest for a better tomorrow. Every story has the power to change the world. [The victims are awaiting a new decision on their case from the Supreme Court. They have waited for over two years now].

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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