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3 missing children make headlines across Turkey sparking a debate

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Three children who went missing have made headlines across Turkey over the past two weeks, the Hürriyet Daily News reported on Monday.

While two of the three youngsters were found dead, one of them is still being sought by volunteers, law enforcement and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Eylül Yağlıkara was found dead on July 1, buried near a power pole after a weeks-long search by authorities. Her death sparked outrage across Turkey, where many people had closely followed the search.

Meanwhile, 4-year-old Leyla Aydemir was reported missing on June 15 near her home in the eastern province of Ağrı.

Teams dug holes, inspected fields and climbed down wells around the village but  were unable to bring back good news for 18 days.

Aydemir was found dead on Monday in Ağrı’s Bezirhane village, some three kilometers from her own village.

In another heart-wrenching case, six-year-old Ufuk Tatar was reported missing in southern Hatay province, local media reported on July 1.

Tatar, who has a speaking disability, reportedly went missing in a forest near the Amanos Mountains, prompting search and rescue efforts that are still ongoing.

A question posed to the Family and Social Policies Ministry in March, meanwhile, was left up in the air.

In response to a question raised by independent deputy from Ankara Aylin Nazlıaka about how many children went missing in 2017, the ministry instead gave the number of children found: 11,691.

“Some 8,684 of these children were returned to their parents while 2,147 of them were put under state protection,” the ministry stated.

In 2016, however, the Interior Ministry was quoted as saying that around 15,900 children remained missing following an inspection proposal made by a deputy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in parliament.

In her parliamentary address, MHP Aydın deputy Deniz Depboylu had also quoted data from the “Families Who Lost Their Loved Ones” research project that were nearly double the official data – or around 30,000.

Amid outrage over the latest cases, officials and political leaders have once again brought up the debate on harsher punishments and heavier penalties, such as “chemical castration.”

“In the new term, we will take steps for harsher penalties. We will implement what is called ‘chemical castration’,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Monday during a visit to Yozgat province.

Meanwhile, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli brought up the death penalty debate once again on June 30.

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