Turkey Firm in Fighting Violence Against Women
A UN and European Commission supported a Turkish project entitled “Prevention of Domestic Violence Against Women,” unveiled by Nimet Çubukçu, Minister of Women and Family in Ankara.
Nimet Çubukçu

In her speech Çubukçu identified violence against women as one of the biggest problems of the 21st century. Explaining that women faced violence more frequently in the family -- usually considered a secure place for women -- she said: "With this project, we are taking the first of many steps to be implemented. This project aims at protecting and improving human rights of women and preventing the custom and honor-related murders. Also, their social, political and cultural status will be strengthened and improved. It is our fundamental target to eliminate all kinds of  discrimination against women.” She also said there would be a concentrated effort to prevent domestic violence.

The project, which will be implemented by the General Directorate of Women’s Status, for two years with technical support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and financial support from the European Commission.

Within the framework of the project, Turkey will first conduct research to disclose the scope of violence against women. The results of this research will be used as a guide for further projects. After the research is completed the government will establish a database to record and follow future violence against women nationwide. Finally, a national activity plan will be formulated so as to decide to whom, how and where to intervene in order to prevent violence. These national activities will then be localized by local governing bodies. Educational activities will be a central part of the project. Institutions serving the victims of violence will be subject to further education, and the number of the women’s shelters be increased. The project, with a budget of €2.9 million, will be completed in two years. The day to day running of the project will be undertaken by the Directorate General on the Status of Woman, technical support will come from the UNFPA and financial support from the EU.

The project, introduced by Minister Çubukçu, emerged after the report by the Parliamentary Commission on Investigation of Violence against Women and Custom-Related Murders was turned into a prime ministry circular in which duties were distributed to ministries. This report was the result of the five-month work of the parliamentary commission set up to investigate violence against women and customs-related murders. In the section titled Conclusions and Proposals, the duties of the Education Ministry, Justice Ministry, Employment and Social Security Ministry, Radio and Television Higher Board (RTÜK), Directorate of Religious Affairs, and other bodies were detailed. For the first time in Turkey, a parliamentary investigation report was turned by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan into a prime ministry circular, which was then sent to relevant ministries.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Gaziantep Deputy Fatma Şahin told Today’s Zaman that following this report, 40,000 police officers in the Interior Minister had begun working on the issue. The Office of Chief of General Staff launched training for soldiers while the Education Ministry set out to review the photos and stories in school books that aggrieve women or present them as secondary citizens, Fatma Şahin remarked. Add that that these issues had previously been brought up, she said that for the first time the ruling party had set up a commission.

European Commission Representative Irma Gynther Karppinen said that this project would help to change perspectives on violence against women in Turkey. Commenting that the European Commission published last week a road map concerning equality of man and woman, Karppinen said that establishment of an information system was desired.

Karppinen found the priority given by the public and private sector to women’s issues in Turkey as a positive development: “The current mindset should be changed. The violence against women should not be considered as a normal action by men or women.” UNFPA vice-representative Tunga Tüzer stressed that violence against women was a breach of human rights. Claiming that fighting against violence against women was an intrinsic part of providing gender equality in society, Tüzer said that UNFPA decided to use the principle of “First youth and women” for the next five years and to support activities within this scope.

Şahin: “CHP delivered dissenting opinion on the report”
Şahin said that a Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy who was in the same commission delivered her dissenting opinion to the report. “We have worked together for four months but at the end, with a view to adding an ideological dimension, she delivered a dissenting opinion, arguing the AK Party was trying to Islamicize society and the rights of Kemalist women had been breached. We have worked so closely for four months,” she said.

Şahin maintained that they were conducting research on the employment of women in the new term. Arguing that women were excluded with respect to their social status, Şahin said that they were undertaking a project in order to ensure the inclusion of women. She said that this project turned into a bill that was being discussed in the Parliamentary Planning and Budgetary Commission, and they hoped that it would pass in the parliament as soon as possible.

CHP Deputy: “Murder was committed through the agency of the state”
CHP İzmir Deputy Canan Arıtman told Today’s Zaman that her dissenting opinion had no ideological basis. She said the regulations proposed by the CHP were ignored in the report, and the project’s proposals were superficial. Arıtman said: “A murder was committed through the agency of the state in Başkale district of Van. A 15-year-old girl who sought refuge in state authorities due to her fears stemming from local customs was returned to her family. And that girl was killed by her family after two days. This a murder committed through the agency of the state.”

Within the framework of the government’s initiative, the Anger Control Program, launched by the Justice Ministry in three pilot prisons will be implemented in all prisons this year. The Interior Ministry has signed a protocol concerning the Protection and Development of Women and Girls with the UNFPA Turkish Representation Office, according to which local action plans will be prepared and the cities that pre-defined criteria will be designated as a city “that supports women.”

One of the most striking examples is provided by the Directorate of Religious Affairs. The directorate has been trying to restraint violence against women through sermons and radio and TV speeches in 81 provincial religious departments. The directorate has also established solidarity offices for women. In addition to women easily being able to establish contacts with women, the directorate has increased the number of its female staff members. Currently, there are eight female deputy provincial religious heads and 4,000 female staff members in the directorate.



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