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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                       

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 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 aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  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.


Children who work in the street in Izmir, Turkey

Hatice Bal Yilmaz and Şeyda Dülgerler, Ege University, Izmir Turkey -- SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY, February 2011, 39(1), 129-144 © Society for Personality Research (Inc.) DOI0.2224/sbp.2011.39.1.129

[accessed 28 October 2017]

Using Izmir, Turkey as a case study the risk factors leading children to work in the streets were identified. Participants in the study were 226 children working in the streets, average age 10.35±2.21 who worked 6.8±2.11 hours per day. The great majority of the children were boys (90.2%), 77.9% were of primary school age; two-thirds of the children were working to provide an economic contribution to the family; 86.6% were from a large family; 78.8% were from a family that migrated to a big city. Almost all did not find working in the street safe; and nearly half were not hopeful about the future. It was established that frequent problems in the children’s families include poverty, unemployment, poor education, having a large family, poor family functioning, migration, limited possibilities of shelter, and domestic violence, including the beating of wives and children. Although nearly all the children still lived with their families, a small percentage of the children (5.8%) had begun living permanently on the streets and then cut ties with their families. A significant relationship was found between living on the streets and the age of the child, the father’s education, and the father’s use of alcohol.

Solve the Problem of Street Children

Emel Kilic, Bıa news centre, İstanbul, 16 January 2008

[accessed 1 August 2011]

NIGHT SHELTERS AND REHABILITATION NEEDED - "Children and young people living on the streets need somewhere to stay at night, and this needs to be provided by the municipalities. In Istanbul, at least 10 night shelters need to be founded. Istanbul’s 32 district municipalities need to come together and collaborate on a common project. They have not done anything on this issue yet, but the problem could be solved within a year if there were a project under the coordination of the Greater Istanbul Municipality."


*** ARCHIVES ***

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]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - A rapid assessment on working street children in 2001 found that street children in the cities of Diyarbakir, Adana, and Istanbul pick through garbage at dumpsites, shine shoes, and sell various goods, among other activities.

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 - Government-provided education through age 14 or the eighth grade is free, universal, and compulsory. The maximum age to which public schooling was provided was 18. Traditional family values in rural areas placed a greater emphasis on education for sons than for daughters. According to the government, 95.4 percent of girls and 99.2 percent of boys in the country attended primary school; however, the UN reported during the year that in the eastern and southeastern regions of the country more than 50 percent of girls between 6 and 14 did not attend school.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [c] Some parents forced their children to work on the streets and to beg.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] There were no reliable statistics for the number of children working on the streets nationwide. The government operated 28 centers to assist such children.

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]

[61] The Committee takes note of the number of protocols the State party has signed with ILO, in particular that for the promotion of education of working children. However, it expresses its concern that there is not a clear legal minimum age for working children and notes, in this regard, the commission established under the Working Children Department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security to prepare a draft "Law about the minimum age for work and protective measures for working children", which will cover all children who work. It nevertheless remains worried about the large number of children engaged in labor activities, in particular children working in the fields, domestic workers, children working in small enterprises and children working in the streets, who appear to be less protected by legislation.

[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.

Street children take part in protest to protect Hasankeyf

Today's Zaman with wires, İstanbul, 26 May 2009

[accessed 1 August 2011]

Street children, who are working with the Batman Youth Social Life and Culture Association (AGES), have taken part in a demonstration to protect the ancient city of Hasankeyf from the Ilısu Dam.

The children, who are working as shoeshiners, scale attendants and tissue sellers, took a break from their jobs for one day to take part in the protest. They chanted slogans against the building of the Ilısu Dam, which is threatening Hasankeyf.  The ancient city will be submerged under water if the dam is completed. They also carried posters which said “Street Children for Hasankeyf" and “Keep your dirty hands and your greedy desires away from Hasankeyf.” The children said that if Hasankeyf is submerged under water, there will be no tourists visiting Batman.

İstanbul home to 30,000 street children, research shows

Habib Güler, Today's Zaman, Ankara, 22 November 2008

[accessed 1 August 2011]

Of Turkey's 30,891 street children, 30,109 live in İstanbul, research conducted by the Prime Ministry's Human Rights Presidency (BİHB) has shown.

Of the street children, 20 were identified in Ankara, and Turkey's third-largest city, İzmir, had none. Kocaeli province was reported to have 687 street children while Eskişehir has 47. The research also revealed that 41,000 children are forced to beg on the streets, more than half of whom are found in İstanbul. Other cities with high figures include Ankara (6,700), Diyarbakır (3,300), Mersin (637) and Van (640).

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

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

[accessed 1 January 2011]

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.

An estimated 88,313 children in Turkey live on the streets, Polat said, adding that the country has the fourth-highest rate of underage substance abuse in the world.

Street kids turned hockey champs to compete in Slovenia

Serkan Canbaz, Today's Zaman, Gaziantep, 26 April 2008

[accessed 2 August 2011]

The Gaziantep Police Force Field Hockey Team -- made up entirely of former street children -- has been the nationwide field hockey champion three years running, and will represent Turkey in the European Open Field Clubs Championship to be held in Slovenia.

Parties promise to protect children but forget their rights

Today's Zaman, 09 July 2007

[accessed 2 August 2011]

WHAT IS THE PARTIES' APPROACH REGARDING THE PROBLEMS OF STREET CHILDREN? -  They just mention that they will rescue street children, but how they will do it is not detailed. None of the parties has a detailed project regarding street children, even though it is a huge problem. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) promises to put and end to the street gangs that "breed" street children, but does not mention what is going to happen to those children afterwards. These gangs, no matter how bad they are for society, provide the only home-like environment street children ever have. The children need rehabilitation programs, homes and education to rejoin society, and the party does not mention such projects at all.

Children From Street Do Organic Farming

Turkish Press, Adana, 4/2/2007

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Street children in southern city of Adana learn how to do organic farming thanks to applied training courses organized in the framework of "social risk mitigation project", supported by European Union (EU).  Head of the Adana Street Children Association Zuhal Bayildiran told AA that they bring street children into social life through these vocational trainings.

Bayildiran said 150 children have already received certificates from courses on automotive, floriculture and food sectors, and approximately one third of them are already employed.

Street Children catch purse snatchers

Star, March 21, 2007

[accessed 9 January 2017]

STREET CHILDREN CATCH PURSE SNATCHERS – A young girl, Meltem Dal, attacked by a purse snatcher in Beyoğlu yesterday, was rescued by the street children who live at the Kids of Hope (Umut Çocukları) Association, the Star daily reported yesterday. Dal realized her purse was opened and caught the 15-year-old snatcher girl from her arm. However, when the snatcher's mother appeared suddenly, she started to harass Dal, the daily wrote yesterday. The street children from the association came to rescue Dal as soon as they heard her screaming.  Two street children held the snatcher mother and daughter until police arrived. The kids calmed Dal down. No one but these street children helped her and she owes her life to these kids, said Star.

A ‘practice of solidarity’ reaching out to working children in Çankırı

Emine Kart , Today's Zaman, Ankara, 22 March 2007

[accessed 2 August 2011]

SOLIDARITY AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL - According to the data and information studied by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in corporation with workers' and employers' organizations and NGOs, the three worst forms of child labor in Turkey have been identified: seasonal agricultural work, work in small and medium sized enterprises under hazardous conditions and working on the streets.

At present 159 children in Çankırı have been identified as being at risk; all of them are now receiving help from the project. In Governor Öner's words, those children "are happier than they were in the past and the possibility of encountering similar situations has been reduced to minimum level."

Children get a future through recycling

Turkish Daily News, 01August 2007

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

Thanks to income from the Solid Waste Recycling Project, some 350 street children in Turkey's southern city of Mersin received a chance to get an education.  Children who were surviving by begging or selling chewing gum and handkerchiefs on the streets are now attending school via the project.

Street children saved via sports

The New Anatolian, Ankara, 31 October 2006

[accessed 9 January 2017]

Kocaeli’s Gebze district police has rehabilitated some 90 street children so far with a project aiming to adapt them to society through sports.

Turfanda also said that they saw significant changes in children who took part in the project, since their self-confidence improved.

He also called on the Gebze townspeople, public institutions and non-governmental organizations to contribute to their efforts to adapt street children to the society.

To Boğaziçi University from street vending

Turkish Daily News

[Last access date unavailable]

[accessed 9 January 2017]

Eight young people working as street vendors have become a source of inspiration for children in similar situations with impressive scores in the national university entrance examinations.

Aksu said the children, who at times had to continue street peddling, with their perseverance and zeal to succeed, were living proof that being a "street child" was not an inescapable fate, stating that even in the period when they had to work on the street, none of them had gotten involved in crime or gone in the wrong direction.

Sixty percent of juvenile delinquents don’t attend school

Turkish Daily News

[Last access date unavailable]

[accessed 9 January 2017]

Erkan noted that street children could be seen everywhere that internal migration, poverty and unemployment are found. He said street children were those who could not cope with the abuse and violence at home. They run away and are forced into criminal acts by others while living on the streets. He added that the characteristics all street children shared were the lack of any childhood, family affection and a proper diet.

Turkey sets the standard on helping street children

Turkish Daily News, Ankara, June 29, 2006

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

[accessed 2 August 2011]

The system Turkey uses in helping children who work on the streets is being followed by Romania, Russia and Albania, reports said on Tuesday.

While there are efforts in many provinces around the country to rehabilitate and educate these children, the work that goes into it also provides an inspiration for others.

Community OT based practice with street children - Off the Street and Back to School [PDF]

European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education ENOTHE Student Group, 12th Annual Meeting, Ankara Turkey

[accessed 2 August 2011]

[page 49-50]

RATIONALE (BACKGROUND, OCCUPATIONAL NEEDS, PROBLEM DESCRIPTION) - Street children, as young as 6 years old, are the most visible part of the population of Turkey. They stand out begging for gum or just a few coins. The problem of street children has grown dramatically in the last few years. About a thousand people a day leave the rural areas for the city to allegedly better their lives.

In Turkey, there is a considerable problem of many thousands of street children, although their precise numbers vary from city to city and often depend on the season of the year. Police sources in Istanbul have reported that there were between six and seven thousand children on the streets. There is an almost permanent problem in the western, southern and south eastern cities, with large numbers of migrants.

Making a Difference for Children: Street Children

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF

[accessed 2 August 2011]


Numbers of children living and/or working on the streets of Turkish cities have visibly increased in recent years.

Many children who live at home are forced by their parents to work on the streets in order to supplement household income.

Some who come from abusive families seek refuge on the streets.

Unable to apply themselves to study or even to attend school, many of these children have dropped out of the educational system and grow up with little hope of gaining appropriate training or certification for a skilled job.

While on the streets, many of these children are subject to maltreatment, physical and/or sexual abuse, disease, malnutrition and substance abuse.

Mahmut Oral

Say Yes – [the Quarterly Newsletter of UNICEF Turkey, Spring 2005]

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Taking the case of Diyarbakır as an example, we see that although the numbers of children living on the street could be counted in the hundreds as recently as 1995, these children now make up a group of as many as 20,000 in this city today.

Yusuf Kulca

Say Yes – [the Quarterly Newsletter of UNICEF Turkey, Spring 2005]

[accessed 2 August 2011]

It is not surprising that numbers of street children in Turkey are reaching such high levels when available statistics show that roughly 15 million families live on the poverty line and 9 million children live with families who are at risk.

Protecting Street Children in Turkey

World Bank, November 2003

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Eleven-year-old Mustafa regularly comes to the Laundry to get clean clothes, a hot meal, and spend the night.  Mustafa is a runaway who, like hundreds of other street children in Istanbul, has learned to rely on the Laundry, a community center that includes a laundry service, cafeteria, .first aid station, overnight shelter, and even offers haircuts, if youngsters need them.

World Bank - Country Specific Small Grants Program Evaluation Committee Meeting

World Bank, APRIL 25, 2005

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Project No: #20 - to organize public information campaign and provide training related to the drug addicted children of the Province of Tekirdağ

Project No: #24 - bringing together about 40 street children under a group that revolves around folkloric dances. Teaching them to dance and perform on stage will enable them to breathe a different atmosphere. The trainers who teach them how to dance, act and behave will have pedagogic skills.

Support for income generation activities for families of child labourers through the ILO's Start Your Business (SYB) programme with a view to gradually eliminate child labour

International Labour Organisation ILO - IPEC Turkey Projects -- Biennium 1998 - 1999

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

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Development Objective: to contribute to the elimination of working street children through strengthening the local initiatives to improve the lives of children and their parents.

Rehabilitation and prevention of working children in Gölcük and Adapazari, Marmara Earthquake Region

International Labour Organisation ILO - IPEC Turkey Projects -- Biennium 2000 - 2001, 2002 - 2003

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

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Immediate Objective: to withdraw 1000 working children and children at high risk of becoming child laborers from work and provide them with rehabilitative, educational, health, nutrition, psycho-social and crisis counseling services while assisting their families through the provision of social support,

A Film Puts Faces On Unseen Street Children

Ilene R. Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, Istanbul, February 20, 2003

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Turkey is not accustomed to acknowledging that so many young people may be struggling to survive on their own.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Turkey",, [accessed <date>]