JWF’s Women’s Platform gave a statement at the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57), a UN Women’s event held at UN Headquarters in New York from March 4 to 15, 2013, to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls.
Although the issue of domestic violence against women entered the political agenda in the late 1980s through civil society and the women’s movement in particular, Turkey has not been successful in completely combating violence against women.
JWF Women’s Platform’s CSW57 Statement
The Women’s Platform’s statement described domestic violence as a human rights violation that affects societies all over the world. The statement showed that in Turkey’s case, 39% of women have been subjected to physical violence either from their husbands or ex-husbands, 10% have been beaten during pregnancy, and 30% have faced sexual as well as physical violence. Furthermore, 49% of abused women in Turkey do not seek help from any organization.
To resist this kind of violence, multiple initiatives have been organized by both the Turkish state and civil society organizations in recent years. In terms of state policies and projects, the statement cited examples such as Law No. 4320: Protection of Family, which was passed in 1998 and amended in 2007; the restructured General Directorate on the Status of Women, which established the National Plan for Combating Violence against Women; and in-service training programs for public sector professionals (e.g., health personnel, police officers, and those in the judiciary).
The statement also mentioned that as part of its bid to join the European Union, Turkey amended its penal code in 2004. Some of the amendments cracked down on rape (including marital rape), honor killings, and sexual harassment, among other issues.
For their part, civil society organizations “deserve credit for keeping the issue on the agenda as well as preparing campaigns geared toward raising awareness and challenging the long ingrained tacit social acceptance of violence against women,” the statement explained. As one example, leading newspapers and TV channels carried out the famous “Stop Domestic Violence” campaign, whose meetings and training programs sought to eliminate violence and raise awareness.
As an important aspect of raising awareness, the statement called for renouncing the “cultural belief that whatever goes on in the family is a private issue that should not be made public, let alone be reported to the police.“
The statement also emphasized the importance of education in combating domestic violence. Women who have already experienced violence and abuse, as well as those who might be at risk, “have to be educated that violence within the family is not acceptable and that they have legal rights protecting them.”
The statement concluded by saying that education and awareness can only turn into action by trusting governmental and nongovernmental institutions and by encouraging women’s socioeconomic development.