2 Turkish celebrities call attention to children jailed with their mothers

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Arzum Onan (L) and Azra Akın

In a rare move among Turkish celebrity figures, two famous models, Arzum Onan and Azra Akın, have raised their voices about the situation of children jailed with their mothers in Turkey after spending time with some of these kids as part of a social responsibility project.

On Thursday Onan and Akın took 40 children who live with their mothers in İstanbul’s Bakırköy Women’s Prison out as part of the project. The models posted photos on social media of the children from a visit to an aquarium in İstanbul.

“Eight hundred children are in prison in Turkey with their mothers, who have been convicted of various crimes. It is very important to ensure the appropriate situation for the health, nutrition, education and most significantly psychological well being of these children who are forced to grow up behind bars. Let’s keep in mind that every child who is not raised in the appropriate environment will remain a big wound in our hearts,” wrote Onan.

In the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement, accusing the group of masterminding the abortive putsch. Although the movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt, more than 500,000 people have been investigated while more than 30,000 others have been arrested. These include 17,000 women, some of who were jailed while pregnant and some shortly after delivery. There are currently more than 800 children accompanying their mothers in prison.

Akın said the authorities have to make sure that the children in jail have the same opportunities as their peers on the outside. She said no child can be neglected just because their mother is in prison.

The situation of these children barely attracts public attention. According to letters sent from mothers in prison or from their relatives, these children are not even given proper nutrition and are forced to eat food for grownups, have to share a bed with their mothers and do not have a place to play.

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