What’s Behind the Underreporting of the Child Rape Scandal That Shook Turkey?

Türkiyenin Bulanan Midesi
4 min readApr 13, 2016

What is the Ensar Foundation scandal? — Quick facts:

  • News of a teacher accused of raping at least 45 children in an illegal student housing facility operated by Ensar Foundation and KAİMDER in the city of Karaman made national headlines in Turkey.
  • According to Turkish law, accomodation facilities for students in primary education can only be opened and managed by the Ministry of Education (Regulation Regarding Private Student Accomodation, Article 5)
  • The suspect named Muharrem B. was arrested for charges of raping children aged 9 to 10, and was subsequently sent to prison.
Muharrem B. on stage during a performance with students staying at KAİMDER houses
  • Of the 45 children who were allegedly raped, 10 were able to obtain medical reports from the State Hospital of Karaman. These were included in the case file.
  • Muharrem B. confessed to his crime.

What is the Ensar Foundation? Who is it associated with?

  • Ensar Foundation is an Islamic educational charity established in Turkey in 1979.
  • Today, it is widely recognized for its close ties with the current Turkish government.
  • Ensar Foundation is known to operate a large network of illegal student dormitories across Turkey.
  • Turkcell, one of the main sponsors of the foundation and Turkey’s leading mobile operator, announced that it would continue to support the foundation shortly after the scandal broke out.
Users are boycotting Turkcell through @TurkcellBoykot due to the company’s sponsorship ties with the Ensar Foundation.
  • In response to the sudden uproar against Turkcell in the social media, Turkcell has taken legal action to block access to hundreds of tweets and several Twitter accounts from Turkey.
  • İsmail Cenk Dilberoğlu, who is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Ensar Foundation, is at the same time a member of the board of directors at Turkish Airlines.
Images shared on Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreCriminallyYours, calling Turkish Airlines board member Dilberoğlu to resign.
  • To date, many government representatives including the Minister of Family and Social Policy Sema Ramazanoğlu have spoken out to defend the foundation and to deny institutional links with the rape incidents.
Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Sema Ramazanoğlu

Why is the Ensar Foundation being protected by the Turkish government?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan (left) and her son Bilal Erdoğan (right) speaking at an Ensar Foundation event.
  • As the scope of the investigation continues to expand, it is presumed that numerous public institutions and officials may be involved in the scandal.
  • For this reason, many individuals within the ruling party (AKP) are actively defending the foundation, and showing support either openly or in secret.
  • Mainstream Turkish media is unable to report on the case in detail and transparency due to government-imposed self-censorship
  • Based on the claim that ‘criminal liability is personal’, the role and responsibility of the Ensar Foundation and KAİMDER are being overshadowed.
  • The fabricated statements made by the governor of Karaman Murat Koca and the Provincial Director of National Education Asım Sultanoğlu are essential pieces of evidence in this regard.
  • The governor has photographs taken in his own office during a visit by suspect Muharrem B. and children staying at an Ensar House, although he had stated earlier that he had no information about such housing facilities in Karaman.
Suspect Muharrem B. and the student residents of an Ensar House during theirvisit to the governorate.
  • A photo taken during a performance by KAİMDER students and a local newspaper ad which openly refers to KAİMDER houses in Karaman are further proof that the provincial director of national education was also lying.
Karaman’s director of national education posing in the front row during a KAİMDER student performance.
Local newspaper ad openly refers to a performance by “STUDENTS STAYING IN KAIMDER HOUSING”
  • Most of the above mentioned contradictory evidence (gathered by independent news platform Gazeteport) is now being systematically deleted from the websites of the Ensar Foundation, KAİMDER and the local press of Karaman.

The Ensar Foundation scandal is being significantly under-reported by leading English and Turkish news outlets.

Below are some English news articles covering the scandal.