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26-08-2017 13:47 | Read 189 times

Backlash over pregnant teen mum left in squalor

GİRNE Municipality and state social services were battling a public backlash this week after it emerged that a pregnant teenage mother and her 18-month-old daughter had been left to fend for themselves in a squalid flat with no electricity or running water.

Backlash over pregnant teen mum left in squalor

The furore erupted on Monday when the municipality issued a press release declaring that its cleaning teams had removed “two skipfuls of rubbish” from the address after neighbours had complained of “bad smells” emanating from it.
The statement then explained that the property in the Police Housing estate had been home to the girl – who is 14 and four months pregnant – with Girne Mayor Nidai Güngördü describing her plight as a “human tragedy”.
He said it was a “disgrace to us all” that a “child who is pregnant could live in such inhumane and unhealthy conditions with her child” and called on the government to “take responsibility for such inidividuals”.
It emerged later in the week that the Bulgarian teenager and her daughter had been taken into temporary care by members of the Conscientious Aid Association about three weeks earlier, after her parents had fled to their homeland and abandoned them.
They had been living in the flat as tenants for “many years”, but the landlord “did not visit the property regularly”, according to reports.
The mother and child are currently staying at Lapta's old people’s home under police guard, lawyers confirmed, until a more suitable shelter can be found.
Reports claimed that the pregnant girl had no siblings and that her mother was “paralysed” and “bed-ridden”.
It was said that she had “gone off the radar” since giving birth at Lefkoşa State Hospital in February last year.
It also emerged that a person arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the school-age girl last year had later been released after tests revealed he was not her child’s father.
The case sparked a fierce debate about the role of the state in caring for destitute children. 
Lawyers Ahmet Said Sayın and Sevilay İleri, representing the girl pro bono, said they had contacted Social Services and the SOS Children’s Village’s Girne Youth Centre for help but that their requests had hit legal barriers.
SOS Girne Youth Centre head Salahi Tozün told Cyprus Today he had wanted to take the mother and child into care, but was “not legally authorised” to do so, adding: “This is totally the responsibility of Social Services.”
Mr Sayın criticised Girne Municipality and the media for publicising the case, saying the girl had been subjected to “abusive messages” since the story broke.
“We were in touch with the government to figure out what we could do to enable her protection, her well-being and of course her child’s,” he told this paper.
“Once the municipality made a public statement, everything changed dramatically.” 
Mr Sayın said “expert” child psychologists had visiting the girl, but that the old people’s home was “not the best place for her” to stay.
“Every child . . . has the right to be protected, to received the best health service [and] education and to live . . . the best way they can,” he added.
Lefkoşa Turkish Municipality Women’s Shelter adviser Ömür Yılmaz expressed her “grave concern” for the girl’s welfare but said the shelter was not suitable for her and her child.
“We do not have staff who specialise in such cases . . . it’s a totally different field of expertise,” she explained. 
“My only hope is that the child is not deported because she isn’t a [TRNC] citizen.”
Social Services Department head Aydan Başkurt said last night that the mother and child were being “evaluated” to decide what would be best for their “physical and mental” well-being.

 

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