Social Humanitarian and Cultural
The Republic of Turkey
Forest Hills Eastern
The definition of human trafficking according to the United Nations is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means”. The International Labor Organization estimates there are approximately 40.3 million human trafficking victims worldwide. They estimate there are hundreds of thousands in the United States. From 2014-2017, 642 human trafficking victims were identified in Turkey by the Human Trafficking Protection Office. The United States’ Department of State classified Turkey as a Tier 2 country for human trafficking in their June, 2019, “Trafficking in Persons Report”. This means that Turkey is making significant efforts to further improve this position.
Human trafficking is a serious problem in Turkey. Turkey is both a destintion and transit state for human trafficking. Turkey’s efforts have included giving traffickers sentences that better align with international standards, but their main efforts are focused on helping victims. To combat human trafficking, Turkey created “The National Task Force on Fight against Human Trafficking” in 2002. The task force is a combination of NGO’s and government institutions, and has created policies to prevent human trafficking, identify and protect victims, and to prosecute traffickers. Turkey has been amending its Penal Code to better align with international standards. Both labor and sex trafficking have been made illegal in Turkey under article 80, and a penalty of up to ten years in prison is prescribed in article 227. Resources Turkey has created to provide help for victims include the “Department for the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking”, which was created to implement projects aimed to help in the fight against human trafficking. Turkey has set up helplines that can be operated and outsourced for victims through the department, and has also worked with the International Organization for Migration to put together the 157 hotline (YIMER). Shelters have been built for victims in the large cities where trafficking is most common: Istanbul, Ankara, and Kırıkkale. Our country is increasing efforts by partnering with international organizations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Because of its geographical location next to nations ripe with war and poverty, Turkey has had an influx of very vulnerable refugees. People who have lived in abuse, homelessness, poverty, or other vulnerabilities are in greater danger of being trafficked. Because the refugees lack financial resources and have socio cultural problems, they are put at a greater risk of being trafficked. In 2013, Turkey legally defined trafficking and created a special type of residence permit that trafficking victims are eligible for with the passage of “Law on Foreigners and International Protection”. To combat the issue of human trafficking, Turkey is creating laws to legally define it, establishing consequences of offenders, and providing resources for victims.
Turkey believes that it is imperative that more resources be created for victims of human trafficking. In our country we have seen women put in vulnerable positions and coerced into bad situations. Our main goal is to provide aid and restore their hope. We also believe resources are needed for victims once they have escaped their bad situations, and we believe that other countries should follow our example in creating shelters and providing life-changing opportunities and support for victims.
- Emma Erlenbeck