Our ECPAT colleague from Turkey, Ezgi Yaman, is among 10 child rights advocates prizewinners of the Child 10 Award 2020 for their work to end child trafficking in Europe.
Ezgi Yaman, the Secretary-General of ECPAT Turkey, has been working with the organisation since 2011, protecting and preventing children from being trafficked and sexually exploited. At ECPAT International, we are proud of her work and to learn more, we gave her a call.
We’re calling Ezgi on Skype from the ECPAT International office in Bangkok. The connection is not the best, but Ezgi’s smile shines through even the worst connection. She says she never expected an appreciation like this. For many years, she’s been giving counselling, support and training to sexually exploited children to empower them on how to protect themselves. The fact that her work and struggle are being appreciated gives her great motivation to keep up the good work.
“When you‘re working in the field of civil society, you never expect an appreciation. You do things that you feel are right, especially when it comes to child rights. There’s no need for external motivation for me because I’m always trying to do my best,’’ Ezgi says, adding she’s going to work even harder after this award ceremony.
ECPAT Turkey is focusing on preventing and protecting children from sexual exploitation, as well as the prosecution of cases. They are combining advocacy efforts with hands-on support including legal counselling and strategic lawsuits. They are working with lawyers, judges, prosecutors and law enforcement.
“We’re also providing training sessions to specialists who are working with children and can assess the risk of sexual exploitation, like teachers, social workers, health care providers, and psychologists,” Ezgi says.
ECPAT Turkey has trained almost a thousand professionals working in shelters, child protection centres, and women’s centres on how to act if they come across a case of child sexual abuse or exploitation. ECPAT Turkey is a network of organisations and some members also work directly with child victims providing physiological and social support.
This year, the theme of the Child 10 award is ‘’Children in the hands of Europe’’, and Ezgi says ECPAT Turkey will keep working on that same theme also this year. In 2020, they are increasing protective and preventive programs and aim to establish nationwide peer support groups in 12 different cities around Turkey. Another important project for 2020 is establishing emergency support shelters for unaccompanied child migrants.
Being an ECPAT International member means a lot to Ezgi and ECPAT Turkey. She says it gives motivation and support:
“It’s a great working environment, ECPAT is a big network with many professional colleagues who are supporting us regularly. Working on the ground often makes you exhausted because conditions are not good enough. Or, you’re struggling with too many issues at the same time.
When that happens, it’s great to have someone’s support. It also gives a huge contribution to my professional development in my career.”