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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                             

Republic of Turkey

Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that still accounts for about 30% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state remains a major participant in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The largest industrial sector is textiles and clothing, which accounts for one-third of industrial employment; it faces stiff competition in international markets with the end of the global quota system.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Turkey.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Rise in sexual abuse of minors in Turkey sets alarm bells ringing

Ercan Yavuz, Today’s Zaman, Ankara, 07 June 2008

[accessed 29 August 2014]

Drawing on statistics she gathered working with experts and civil society groups, Arıtman says 4 percent of all children in Turkey are subject to sexual abuse, with 70 percent of the victims being younger than 10. “Contrary to popular belief, boys are subject to sexual abuse as frequently as girls. In reported cases of children subject to commercial sexual exploitation, 77 percent of the children came from broken homes. Twenty-three percent lived with their parents, but in those homes domestic violence was common. The biggest risk faced by children who run away and live on the street is sexual exploitation. Children kidnapped from southeastern provinces are forced into prostitution here. Today, it is impossible to say for certain how many children in Turkey are being subjected to commercial sexual exploitation, but many say official information is off by at least 85 percent.”

According to research Polat conducted himself, the frequency of cases of sexual abuse and exploitation is highest in the cities of İstanbul, Diyarbakır and Bursa. Children trafficked from countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Russia, as well as southeastern Turkey, are forced into prostitution in İstanbul. He says forced marriages of young girls to older men in return for money remains a persistent and traditional sexual crime against children in Diyarbakır.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT - Report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation of children  [PDF]

Freddie Nickolds and Maud Ballez, ECPAT International, July 2020

[accessed 25 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Turkey. The overview gathers existing publicly available information on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT), online child sexual exploitation (OCSE), trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, child early and forced marriage (CEFM) and identifies gaps, research needs, and recommendations.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 9 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The constitution requires the state to take measures to protect children from exploitation. The law criminalizes sexual exploitation of children and mandates a minimum sentence of eight years in prison. The penalty for conviction of encouraging or facilitating child prostitution is up to 10 years’ imprisonment; if violence or pressure is involved, a judge may double the sentence.

The age of consent for sex is 18. The law prohibits producing or disseminating child pornography and stipulates a prison sentence of up to two years as well as a fine for violations.

Incest involving children remained a problem, although prosecutions remained minimal. The law provides prison sentences of up to five years for incest.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 8 June 2001

[accessed 9 March 2011]

[62] The Committee recommends that the State party continue to undertake measures to prevent and combat all forms of economic exploitation of children, including commercial sexual exploitation.

[63] While noting that a number of centers have been established, with the collaboration of non-governmental organizations, to provide counseling, training and rehabilitation services for children living in the streets, the Committee nevertheless expresses its concern at the significant number of such children and notes that assistance is generally only provided to them by non-governmental organizations.

Woman jailed for forcing child into sex trade

Independent Online (IOL) News, Dushanbe, 5 November 2004

[accessed 1 January 2011]

Last week a non-governmental organisation said there was a growing trend in the abduction and sale of Tajik boys for sexual exploitation abroad.  The Modar organisation said groups in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries were prepared to pay as much as $70 000 for a Tajik boy between the ages of 10 and 12.

Turkey mulling crackdown on child pornography

Bariş Altintaş, Turkish Daily News, Ankara, December 15, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 1 August 2011]

SPREAD OF INTERNET USE FACILITATES CHILD PORNOGRAPHY - However, according to the report titled “Situational Analysis of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Turkey: Istanbul and Diyarbakır – 2006”, the forms and manifestations of child abuse remain relatively unknown and undisclosed. The 84-page report found that forcing children into prostitution was the main form of sexual exploitation of children, with a steady increase in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır and in Istanbul.

The report found that the most widely abused group of children was girls between 12 and 18 years old, but that there was also a substantial number of boys who were victims of sexual abuse. Child prostitution occurs in a variety of locales, ranging from slums to the rich, and the culprits have no common profile other than being men.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – TURKEY – The increase from 5 to 8 years of compulsory basic education has been a positive step to combat the rising numbers of runaways and exploited children, including sexually exploited children. However, virginity tests have recently been reinstalled in high schools allowing schools to dismiss students who are found not to be virgins. This will likely increase the already rising number of runaways in the country and make them vulnerable to CSEC.  Moreover, girls that have been sexually abused and raped will now be re-victimised by an education system that discriminates against girl children.

Country Narratives - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2005

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, June 3, 2005

[accessed 1 August 2011]

Turkey is a transit and destination country for women and children trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation. Some men, women, and children are also trafficked for forced labor. There has been increasing evidence of internal trafficking of Turkish citizens for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Most victims come from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, including Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Romania, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Belarus.

ECPAT takes Make-IT-Safe to Turkey

ECPAT, Make-IT-Safe Campaign Updates, 19-21 April 2005

[accessed 1 August 2011]

One of the biggest international investigations into child pornography on the Internet pointed to Istanbul as a major source of child exploitation images.

CSEC Overview

ECPAT International

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 1 August 2011]

Commercial sexual exploitation of children has grown in Turkey in recent years.  Reasons for this growth include the collapsed borders with the FSU and former Soviet-bloc countries, as well as Turkey’s growing popularity as a destination for migrant workers.  Where children in Turkey have become victims of commercial sexual exploitation, Turkish authorities have treated the children as juvenile delinquents.  Though the majority of sex workers in Turkey are adults, NGOs have recently highlighted the growing incidence of child prostitution.

Tajik court to try "pimp-mother"

BBC Monitoring International, 9 July 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 1 August 2011]

In February 2002, the accused adopted the underage girl, as it became known later, with a view to sexual exploitation. She took the 12-year-old girl to the UAE three months afterwards, where the girl (an ethnic Tatar) was for the first time forced into prostitution. The following year, they stayed in Dubai, where the girl was regularly forced into prostitution. She was repeatedly sexually abused.

In February 2003, they were deported from the UAE, but this did not stop the resourceful "mother", and the girl was taken to Turkey in December 2003. There, in Istanbul she was sexually exploited until March this year




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - TURKEY [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2008

[accessed 1 August 2011]

Child prostitution is the main form of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Turkey, according to research conducted by ECPAT International in 2006. It happens informally or through organised networks, and involves both girls and boys. The victimisation of boys is hardly acknowledged as it is a particularly sensitive issue. The research also revealed an increase in child prostitution in recent years, fuelled by the precarious situation of a large number of migrant families, a generally high level of domestic violence and abuse, as well as ineffective protection systems, which increasingly lead children to situations of vulnerability, including living in the streets.

Many children who run away from home head for Istanbul, the largest city, and some are forced into sexual exploitation to survive. Most boys seem to run away for financial reasons (in the hope of earning higher incomes), and because they lack a loving and supportive family environment; girls seem to leave home for similar reasons but also because of violence to which they were exposed at home. Some children also travel to the city in search of the ‘easy and free’ lifestyle they presume their friends are leading, only to find themselves in very difficult circumstances. Lack of protection mechanisms targeting such migrant children make them extremely vulnerable to sexual exploiters or intermediaries. In addition, children surviving on the streets are sometimes ensnared into prostitution through activities that they take up in the red-light districts, such as selling basic items, and slowly start to see prostitution as a way to earn a living.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 1 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Girls are trafficked to Turkey for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, and Russia, and through the country to Western European destinations.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - In December two sociologists published the results of their one‑year study on child prostitution in Istanbul. They estimated there were 300 to 400 girls under 18 working in the sex trade in the city.

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

[accessed 5 April 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – In May, police took testimony from a 17-year-old Romanian victim who described a common trafficking scenario. The victim reported that when she was in ninth grade she came in contact with traffickers who promised her a job with good wages in Istanbul as a baby sitter or housekeeper. In October 2003, traffickers brought her to Istanbul by bus with other Romanian girls and put her up in a hotel. Her captors destroyed her passport and other identification documents, gave her false documents, and threatened to kill her if she spoke to police. She was forced to have intercourse with approximately 200 persons over an 8-month period

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