624 young children behind bars in Turkey

The Turkish Ministry of Justice has revealed that 624 children under the age of six are living with their convicted mothers in prison.

Diken, a news site from Turkey, reported the Ministry’s statement on Thursday, noting that 268 of these children are under two years old. The statement confirmed that the number of young children behind bars has risen by 20% since last April.

The issue of children in prison became headline news last December when Ayşe Çelik, a teacher and mother of two from the south-eastern city of Diyarbakır, received a jail sentence for phoning a popular chat show to plead “don’t let children die” in the conflict with Kurdish insurgents. The teacher will begin her jail term along with her two-month-old baby if her appeal fails.

The ministry refused to answer questions on pregnant prisoners, or those who lost their newly born children while in prison, stating that these issues required “special study”.