In Turkey’s quest to accede to the European Union, women’s rights have continually surfaced as an area where considerable improvements are needed to achieve compliance with EU membership standards. The prevalence of violence against women has been noted many times over the course of the last two decades with policy documents in the last few years highlighting a common theme in Turkey’s recent record: while significant strides forward have been made in regard to the legal framework, implementation lags behind. Below are relevant conclusions and recommendations drawn from a recent sampling of EU policy documents:
1) Conclusions on Turkey
(extract from the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European
Parliament "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010", COM(2009)533 final)
The overall legal framework guaranteeing women's rights and gender equality is broadly in place. However, further significant efforts are needed to turn the legal framework into reality and to narrow the gap between men and women in economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, and access to education. Domestic violence, honour killings and early and forced marriages remain serious problems in some areas of the country. There is a need for further training and awareness-raising on women's rights and gender equality, for both men and women.
2) 2008/157/EC: Council Decision of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey and repealing Decision 2006/35/E
- Pursue measures to implement current legislation relating to women’s rights and against all forms of violence against women, including crimes committed in the name of honour. Ensure specialised training for judges and prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, municipalities and other responsible institutions and strengthen efforts to establish shelters for women at risk of violence in all larger municipalities, in line with current legislation,
- further increase the awareness of the general public, and of men in particular, concerning gender issues, and promote the role of women in society, including through ensuring equal access to education and participation in the labour market and in political and social life; support the development of women’s organisations to fulfil these goals.
3) European Parliament resolution of 10 February 2010 on Turkey's progress report 2009
The European Parliament…
4. Regrets the fact that, where legislation relevant to the Copenhagen political criteria is in place, its implementation continues to be insufficient; urges the Government in particular to intensify the implementation of legislation in the areas of [inter alia] women's rights…
31. Encourages the Government to increase its efforts to translate gender equality, as guaranteed by law, into practice; in particular, considers that a strategy for women's education and employment should be prepared, reducing the employment of women in the grey economy; calls on the Government to avail itself of the potential of civil society organisations, especially when it comes to raising awareness of women's rights, the prevention of violence and so-called 'honour killings'; points out that the Government and the judiciary need to ensure that all cases of violence and discrimination against women are duly brought before the courts and the offenders punished, and that women and children in danger of violence or honour killings are protected and supported by the authorities; encourages the Turkish Government to initiate an effective communication campaign in order to increase awareness of women's rights throughout the whole country
32. Acknowledges that the legal framework for dealing with domestic violence, honour killings and early forced marriages is in place, but points out that there are concerns regarding implementation; calls, therefore, on the authorities to provide protection for victims by increasing the number of shelters and other facilities; draws attention to the fact that the level of female employment in Turkey is the lowest among all OECD countries and should be raised in order to promote women's economic rights and independence.
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