Turkish author and publisher detained over novel including pedophilia story

A Turkish author and his publisher were detained on Wednesday after the excerpts from the latest novel of the author shared on social media caused public outcry over a story on child abuse, Anadolu Agency reported.

On Tuesday, a social media user shared a page from Abdullah Şevki’s 2013 book “Zümrüt Apartment” in which the author writes a detailed first-person account of sexual assault on a child from the eyes of a pedophile. 

Many in Turkey, including both secularists and conservatives, called on authorities to prosecute and heavily punish both the author and the publisher.

Turkey has been witnessing a severe increase in child abuse cases over the past couple of years. The country this week was faced with news about a one-and-a-half year old Ecrin Kurnaz, who reportedly was raped and killed by a relative. 

The publisher on Facebook said that his publishing house and author have been attacked for days, calling Şevki one of the finest intellectuals in the country and saying critics did not have a proper understanding of literature. 

Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism announced on Tuesday on Twitter that it had filed a legal complaint in Ankara against the author and the publisher. Turkey’s Bar Association also filed a separate complaint. 

“We have to continue our struggle demanding authorities take measures against child abuse and against all kinds of acts that encourage and promotes it,” said the Bar Association’s General Secretary, Sabiha Tekin, after filing the complaint, which demanded from authorities to ban the sales of the book and charge its author and the publisher with child abuse and inciting criminal acts. 

Some social media users also announced that they had filed individual complaints about the book.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara launched an investigation into the book on Tuesday and detained both Abdullah Şevki and his publisher, Alaattin Topçu. 

Since the scandal over Şevki’s book broke out, social media users have begun accusing other authors of encouraging child abuse with reference to their works. Some shared excerpts from internationally-renowned author Elif Şafak’s novel “Mahrem [The Private]”, which was published in 2000. Novelist Ayşe Kulin faced similar accusations over her 2008 book “Gece Sesleri [The Voices of the Night]”.