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Despite hero worship, Turkey's doctors continue to face threats, violence

Doctors and medical associations worry Turkey's new law that includes heavier penalties for physical and verbal attacks against health care workers may do little to change the situation on the ground.

Many of Turkey’s doctors and health care workers left their shifts at noon on April 17 to stand together — albeit a meter apart, as necessitated by the rules of social distancing — in recognition of the approximately 100,000 doctors verbally and physically assaulted while doing their job in the last 10 years.

Organized by the vocal — and anti-governmental — Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the demonstration comes in the wake of a new law that slaps heavy penalties on those who assault health care workers. Taken amidst the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic that claims more than a hundred lives every day in Turkey, the law will punish physical attacks on health care workers with 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison without parole. Threats or insults against health care officials carry a maximum punishment of three years.

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