Human Rights Review: Increasing Gender Violence a Worrying Sign for Turkey

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JWF focused on women’s rights in Turkey during the 30th Plenary Meeting of the Human Rights Council, 29th Regular Session, at the UN Office at Geneva on June 26, 2015. Event attendees included high-level representatives from member states, intergovernmental organizations, and other major civil society organizations.

According to the media reports, at least 1,134 women were murdered over the past five years [and] 735 women were raped, 986 women were harassed, and 1,395 women were violently injured.

Statistics cited by JWF on violence against women in Turkey

The meeting considered statements submitted as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in which each member state assesses human rights situations in their country and declares which actions they have taken in order to fulfill their human rights obligations.

Ferin Merve Yilmaz Goksan, JWF’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, delivered an oral statement regarding the UPR process in Turkey. Goksan stated that JWF welcomed the adoption of UPR outcomes, particularly those that address women’s rights in Turkey.

She added that Turkey is committed to bringing national laws in compliance with international human rights standards, noting that Turkey was the first country to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention (also known as the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence).

However, Goksan also expressed grave concerns about increases in violence against women in Turkey over the past several years. The prevalence of femicide, rape, and other forms of violence indicates that “these are not individual random acts, but the signs of a structural problem,” Goksan said.

To conclude the statement, Goksan outlined JWF’s recommendations for improving Turkey’s human rights record for women:

  • Gender-sensitive education must be considered a vital instrument to eliminate the male dominant elements evident in cultural codes.
  • Media should avoid using discriminatory language that objectifies women and justifies violence.
  • Senior state officials should refrain from discriminating public discourse against women.
  • The current laws and international conventions ratified by the government must be decisively implemented.
  • Reduction in prison sentences must be avoided for femicides and violence against women.
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