Strip search, sexual violence claims in Turkish prisons prompt outrage

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu's recent revelation of widespread strip searches and sexual violence in prisons across Turkey prompted outrage, as the hashtag 'don't stay silent to strip searches' trended to #1 on Twitter on Dec. 15.

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Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu brought up claims regarding strip searches of female detainees across Turkey, prompting societal outrage and increased awareness around the human rights violations occurring in Turkish prisons.

An avid human rights defender, deputy Gergerlioğlu presented nearly 2,000 parliamentary questions regarding human rights violations in Turkey's correctional system. According to Gergerlioğlu, he didn't receive responses to any of them.

The most recent report of a strip search was from the Aegean province of Uşak where a group of female detainees were searched naked before admission into the facility, but the deputy says that the violations extend to even more sinister actions.

"There are numerous reports of cavity searches. We were also told that children have been abused under the guise of checking their diapers for contraband," Gergerlioğlu noted.

In one incident, a female inmate was forced into a strip search under the disguise of searching the female's sanitary products for contraband, Gergerlioğlu said, adding that prisons are "messing with women and old ladies' underwear."

"2 years ago, I was informed that a woman prisoner had been strip-searched. Even after the prisoner stated that she was having her period, she was forced to get naked. As if that weren’t enough, she was treated abhorrently," the deputy tweeted on Dec. 15. 

The deputy said that the strip searches qualified as sexual violence, adding that some reports even constitute rape. 

”Last night, tens of thousands of tweets poured out with hashtag 'don't stay silent to strip searches,'" the deputy said during an HDP group meeting on Dec. 16. "It was trending #1 on Twitter in Turkey and #14 in the world. We will end this strip search vileness."