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Istanbul hospital’s cover-up of teen pregnancy just tip of iceberg

An Istanbul hospital covered up 115 cases of underage pregnancy, refusing to report the cases to police as required by law.

“A list of shame that will shock Turkey” read a headline in the daily Hurriyet on Jan. 17. Journalist Dincer Gokce's exclusive report revealed that an Istanbul hospital failed to disclose to police at least 115 underage pregnancies documented by hospital staff. Hospitals in Turkey are required by law to report all pregnancies to girls under 18 to police and social services, but the Kanuni Sultan Suleyman Research and Education Hospital failed to disclose to authorities the pregnancies it documented last year between Jan. 1 and May 9. Of those pregnancies, 39 were Syrian nationals and 38 were girls younger than 15.

The Kanuni Sultan Suleyman Hospital had “hidden” these pregnancies from authorities. But social worker turned whistleblower Iclal Nergiz, who had been transferred to the hospital's social services department in May, noticed that the hospital's official report and obligatory notice to the police on a pregnant 17-year-old was missing. She inquired about it but received no answer from hospital officials. When she checked the hospital's database, she discovered more than 100 similar unreported cases. Hospital staff ignored her requests for further information and she was eventually transferred to another hospital.

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