Turkey: New Report Indicates that Shortcomings Remain in Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

A new report released by Human Rights Watch, “He Loves You, He Beats You”: Family Violence in Turkey and Access to Protection, gives a grim account of domestic violence in Turkey.  Despite recent legal reforms which include strong domestic violence laws and new avenues for victim protection, authorities and other officials are failing to implement new laws and procedures.  A 2009 survey found that forty-two percent of Turkish women and forty-seven percent of women from rural areas have experienced domestic abuse.  The report by Human Rights Watch was compiled from interviews with forty Turkish women and dozens of experts on domestic violence.

Law 4320 on the Protection of the Family was adopted in Turkey in 1998 and amended in 2007 to establish procedures for obtaining a protection order.  The law, however, does not protect certain groups, such as unmarried or divorced women, and, even when a woman is covered under the law, officials often fail to carry out their duties.  In addition, although Turkish law requires municipalities to provide shelters for victims, enforcement is lax, and the conditions in the shelters that do exist are often substandard.  A new amendment to Law 4320, proposed March 7, 2011, would widen its scope to encompass unmarried women, provide financial support to victims, and improve protection of victims’ information.  It also provides for more training for police and prosecutors.

On May 11, 2011, the Council of Europe convened in Istanbul to sign the convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.  Gauri van Gulik, author of the Human Rights Watch report, noted before the convention, “At a time when Turkey is about to host governments from all over Europe to make a binding commitment to end violence against women, Turkey's government should take an honest look at its own shortcomings.” 

 

Compiled from: Turkey: Women Left Unprotect From Violence (4 May 2011), The new Council of Europe convention to prevent and combat violence against women opened for signature in Istanbul, WUNRN, (11 May 2011).