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Social and economic rights - Country of origin information report Turkey March 2009

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Social and economic rights


22.19 The European Commission 2008 Progress report, published 5 November 2008, mentions that “Parliament adopted the ‘Employment Package’ amending the Labour Law and certain other laws in order to promote women's employment. This Package was adopted in May 2008 aiming to address unemployment challenges, with a specific focus on the promotion of job opportunities for women…”

[71d] (p61)

22.20 The EC 2008 Progress report also added that “For instance, the amendments stipulate, among other things, that the employers' share of social security premiums for newly hired women employees are to be covered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund for a five-year period, starting with 100% in the first year and ending with 20% in the fifth.”

[71d] (p61)

22.21 The EC 2008 Progress report further noted that “Overall, the legal framework guaranteeing women's rights and gender equality is broadly in place…”

[71d] (p21) “

Although the overall legal framework guaranteeing gender equality is in place, further big efforts need to be made if the gap between men and women in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, access to healthcare, survival and political empowerment is to be closed.”

[71d] (p70)

22.22 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices, published 11 March 2008, noted that “Women continued to face discrimination in employment to varying degrees and were generally underrepresented in managerial-level positions as well as in government. Women generally received equal pay for equal work in professional, business, and civil service positions, although a large percentage of women employed in agriculture and in the retail, restaurant, and hotel sectors worked as unpaid family labor.”

[5g] (Section 5)

22.23 In a Bianet article, ‘Parliament's Equality Commission In September’, published 29 July 2008, it was noted that:
“Fatma Şahin, Gaziantep deputy for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) told Bianet they were expecting a commission regarding the equality between men and women to be formed in the Parliament in September. Şahin said that they wanted their bill for the commission to become a law in the beginning of July, but because of the recent agenda of the country, it had to be postponed to September.
“According to the bill that is waiting in the Parliament to become a law, the duties of the commission will be the following:

        • To inspect bills, bill proposals and decrees with the power of law in order to determine if they comply with the national legislation and international obligations regarding the equality between men and women.

        • To prepare an evaluation report in every legislative year about the developments towards establishment of equality between men and women and the activities regarding them.

        • To observe the developments in other countries and international institutions and to have inspections in other countries and to inform the Parliament about them.

        • To provide the Parliament with the necessary information and documents about the subject.

        • To organize activities about equality between men and women in order to inform the public. ”


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22.24 The Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information, accessed 24 August 2008, recorded that the legal age for marriage has been raised for both men and women to over 17 years (Article 124). However, under extreme situations and with sufficient cause, both men and women who are over the age of 16 can be married with the permission of the judge.


22.25 Human Rights Council: Addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Mission to Turkey, 5 January 2007, noted that:
“The 1998 Law on the Protection of the Family grants abused spouses or other family members living with the perpetrator the right to go to court to apply for a protective order... In granting the protective order, the court can require that the perpetrator leave the family home for a period of up to six months or impose other protective measures. Failure to abide by a protective order can result in imprisonment of up to six months... In practice, the law has not lived up to the high expectations and seems to be rarely used. In Batman, for instance, there were only 20 applications for a protective order in all of 2005. The lawyers I spoke with explained that the courts regularly fail to enforce such orders... Therefore, lawyers often advise their female clients to file for divorce and find a new home rather than seek an ineffective protective order and further aggravate the conflict with the perpetrator.”


22.26 In the United Nations Development Programme report on Youth of Turkey 2008 it was noted that “Although the law prohibits children from marrying, families — particularly those in remote rural areas — have sufficient leeway to give their adolescent daughters in marriage, owing to inadequate birth registration procedures. Furthermore many rural communities consider an ‘imam nikah’ or religious ceremony sufficient to formalise a union. As a result many marriages remain officially unregistered and essentially invisible to the State.”


22.27 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices, published 11 March 2008, noted that “On June 22 [2007], a Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court convicted numerous family members for the March 2006 murder of 23-year-old Gulistan Gumus. Gumus's husband from an arranged marriage, Omer Tas, conspired with relatives from his family and Gumus's family to murder her after she tried to divorce him and move to Istanbul. The court sentenced Tas and brother-in-law Mehmet Sah Tas to aggravated life imprisonment; father Bahattin Gumus and father-in-law Hamdullah Tas to 18 years for complicity in the murder; and two other relatives and one family friend to 15 years for complicity. The court added on three years to the sentences of Mehmet Sah, Hamdullah Tas, Izzettin Tas, Bahattin Gumus and Abdurrahim Gumus for breaking and entering.”

[5g] (Section 5)

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Forced marriages

22.28 The Amnesty International (AI) report ‘Turkey: Women confronting family’ noted in June 2004 that “Forced marriage, in contrast to arranged marriage, has been described as any marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties and may involve coercion, mental abuse, emotional blackmail, and intense family or social pressure. In the most extreme cases, it may also involve physical violence, abuse, abduction, detention, and murder of the individual concerned.”


22.29 A June 2008 article on Todayszamen.com reported:
“The issue of forced marriages in Turkey was discussed at the ’Active against Forced Marriages’ conference aiming to raise awareness of the issue and offer solutions to combat the threat to women’s human rights… Experts highlighted the significance of public awareness in tackling with the problem of forced marriage, in Turkey mostly seen in the eastern regions but also occurring in the country’s west… The conference program stressed that the more young girls know about their legal rights, the better chances they have of resisting an undesired marriage.
“However, a rising level of awareness alone is not enough, a lack of economic independence drove women to give in to forced marriages or continue the marriage they were forced into. Government institutions must take steps, and women should be provided with vocational training.”


22.30 The same AI 2004 report also adds that “Forced marriage violates a woman’s right to choose her partner, a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Women’s Convention, to both of which Turkey is a state party.”


22.31 As noted in the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada document ‘Turkey: Forced marriage in Turkey; outcome when a woman refuses to marry the designated man; outcome when a woman elopes with another man; attitude of state and availability of state protection (July 2001-September 2004)’, dated 28 September 2004:
“Young girls living in rural areas, specifically in eastern Anatolia, face difficulties, in trying to oppose forced marriage since under tribal custom they are considered the property of either their father before marriage or by their husband afterwards and if they resist social pressure from the community, ‘they do so at their peril’. Similarly, according to one of the leaders of WWHR, rural women are likely to be marginalized in the context of changes induced by the new Civil Code, including the raising of the legal age for marriage to 18, as they ‘must contend with traditions and customs, [including underage marriage] that have little to do with the legislative revisions their urban sisters enjoy’.”


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Violence against women

22.32 The EC 2008 Progress report on Turkey stated that:
“The Prime Ministerial circular on combating honour killings and domestic violence against women has helped to improve cooperation between public institutions. Awareness-raising activities have been organised for members of the judiciary and law enforcement bodies. To date, 30000 law enforcement officers have reportedly participated in training with a further 10000 planned by the end of 2008. Gender sensitivity training programmes have also been conducted for health workers. The number of shelters for women victims of domestic violence has marginally increased. Courts have applied the

amended Law on protection of the family.”

[71d] (p19)

22.33 In a recent BIA News article ‘Democratic Women Launch Campaign to Prevent Violence against Women’ dated 25 November 2008, it was noted that:
“Democratic Free Women’s Movement held a press release for the November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at the Eminönü Square… They plan to have various meetings to help those women who get killed because of violence they are subject to, ad increase the solidarity with them.

“Another press release, this time by university students, was held at the Uludağ University Young Women Society for the November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The press release emphasized that the universities were not immune from violence against women, that one out of every three women experienced violence and one out of every six male university graduates resorted to violence in his relationship.”


22.34 The BIA News article ‘Police Violence at the Exhibition for the Elimination of Violence against Women’ published 25 November 2008, reported that “The November 25 Women’s Platform organized an exhibition composed of objects symbolizing and the pictures showing the violence against women, but the exhibition was ended by a sudden and violent police intervention… Twenty police officers dispersed the boards used for the exhibition, using physical violence in the process, on the grounds that it was an ‘unauthorized activity’, despite the laws said otherwise.”


22.35 The Freedom House 2007 Countries at the Crossroads, published 25 September 2007, recorded that “Although the legal framework is strong, women still face discriminatory practices. NGOs and the Ministry for Women and Families report that about a third of women in Turkey are victims of violence.”


22.36 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “the law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, language, or social status; however, problems in implementation of these laws existed… The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape; however, the government did not effectively enforce the law.”

[5g] (Section 5)

22.37 The Freedom House 2007 Freedom in the World report, published 2 July 2008, stated that “Domestic abuse and so-called honor crimes continue to occur; a 2007 study from the Turkish Sabanci University found that one in three women in the country was a victim of violence. The 2004 penal code revisions include increased penalties for crimes against women and the elimination of sentence reductions in cases of honor killing and rape.”


22.38 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey (UKBA FFM) 11 – 20 February 2008, interviewed a number of sources on the issue of violence against women. The Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHCEK) said that most cases of domestic violence in Turkey involved women who suffered violence from their husbands. SHCEK advised that, in Turkish society, men were seen as the dominant power and the use of violence against their wives was culturally condoned.

[59] (S11.4)

22.39 The EU Commission Delegation to Turkey (which represents the European Commission on the diplomatic and political level) advised that domestic violence was more common in the South Eastern region, but was a problem throughout the whole country. In this region, there was less access for women to education, judicial and social services. The EU delegation also cited the example of the city of Urfa, where women were particularly vulnerable to domestic violence as a result of strong tribal bonds and a lack of shelters.

[59] (S19.2)

22.40 In 2006, the Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHCEK) informed the UKBA FFM that it had conducted a study into which regions applications for assistance from female victims of domestic violence were coming from. SHCEK said that, in descending order, the highest number of applications came from the Mediterranean region, the Aegean region, Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Marmara region. All these regions had similar numbers of cases. However, in analysing the figures further, SHCEK found that 67% of applications were from women living in main cities, 28% from women outside of the main cities and 5% from women living in villages.

[59] (S11.9)

22.41 In the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report ‘violence against women, its causes and consequences’, by Yakin Erturk, dated May 2006, it was noted that “The situation of women in the eastern regions is particularly worrisome. Their limited access to education, employment, information, health services and justice are major constraints on their citizenship rights, their ability to negotiate the terms of their existence and to obtain redress for their problems.”


22.42 The FCO provided information from an article on domestic violence which appeared in the Turkish newspaper, The Milliyet, on 8 June 2007. The newspaper quoted the Directorate-General of Policing crime statistics for 2005 and 2006 as showing that, in this two-year period, there were 333,237 crimes committed which had elements of violence against women. A Turkish woman suffered from violent crime once every 3 minutes, on average, during those two years; 1,985 women lost their lives and 56,445 women were injured in these occurrences.


22.43 In the same article it was recorded:
“Occurrences increased in one year

“In 2005 there were 46,612 instances of beatings, climbing to 71,564 in 2006. 36, 72 women were the victims of beatings.

“In 2005 the number of instances of mistreatment of family members was 9, 901 and in 2006 17, 64. The total number of victims in 2005 and 2006 was 23, 683.

“The number of instances of threat was 10,809 in 2005, rising to 28, 88 in 2006. The total number of women who were victims was 13,186 in total.

“Whilst the number of women suffering from violence as 5,257 in 2005, it rose to 9,317 in 2006.

“Moreover, whist 8,773 women were injured in 30,621 suicide attempts, 858 women lost their lives in 3,266 occurrences of suicide.”

[59] (Information provided by the FCO, 29 May 2008)

22.44 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices, published 11 March 2008, noted “Women’s NGOs reported that more than 150,000 women were victims of domestic violence between 2001 and 2005…more women called the police emergency hotline to report domestic violence and went to police stations to file abuse reports. On October 15, the Istanbul governor and the Foundation to Support Contemporary Life, backed by EU funds, launched a domestic violence hot line staffed by operators who screen calls and then forward legitimate calls to police, attorneys, or psychologists. In the first ten days of the program, approximately 150 calls were received.”

[5g] (Section 5)

22.45 Mr Tuzecan, Director of the Stop Violence against Women campaign, informed the UKBA FFM that The Hurriyet ran a 24 hour telephone hotline (02126569696) for female victims of human rights violations.

[59] (S2.7)

Working in cooperation with the state authorities and part funded by the EU, the hotline was staffed by seven full time psychologists and two full time lawyers. Mr Tuzecan explained that anybody with access to a phone in Turkey or abroad could obtain guidance from the Hurriyet hotline, which had been up and running for 3 months and had taken 6,000 calls to date.

[59] (S2.8)

22.46 Several helpline services available to women were mentioned by the sources interviewed by the UKBA FFM. SHCEK’s telephone hotline ‘Call 183’, noted above, provided support and guidance to women on issues of domestic violence/abuse. Those reporting abuses could be reached immediately as call offices were available across Turkey. If necessary, SHCEK (in cooperation with the Turkish National Police) could remove people from violent home environments. Other hotlines were also available to women throughout Turkey providing support and guidance, such as the Turkish National Police Helpline ‘call 155’, the Gendarmerie helpline ‘call 156’ and a line run by IOM ‘call 157’ to deal with cases of human trafficking.

[59] (S11.18)

22.47 Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) advised that despite Turkey being a large country physically with limited financial resources, positive developments were being taken forward in the area of women’s human rights and will continue. A legislative framework was in place but the implementation was slow. Also, organisations representing women’s interests had extended to parts of the country where they did not used to be.

[59] (S1.16)

22.48 The International Helsinki Federation Annual Report on Human Rights Violations (2006): Turkey, 8 June 2006, noted that:
“Derya Orman, Gülselin Orman and Seyhan Geylani Sondas were arrested by the police in Istanbul in April because one of them did not have an identity card with her. They stated that the police requested them ‘sexual favors’ in the station in order to release them. They reported that they were stripped naked, sexually harassed and forced to sexual intercourse by the officers on duty, including a policewoman. HRA officials reported that the applicants were mistreated by the prosecutor when they went to his office to file complaints against the police officers.”

[10a] (p441)

See section 22.80 –

Protection of victims of violence

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Honour killings

22.49 In a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 23 June 2008, it was noted that “An honor killing is generally a murder committed by male family members against female members who has brought ‘dishonor’ to the family, including seeking a divorce or allegedly committing adultery.”


22.50 The report of the Special Rapporteur ‘Violence against women, its causes and consequences’ by Yakin Erturk, dated May 2006, stated “Honour (namus) is an important value in Turkish society; it serves to reproduce the rigid control exercised over women and their sexuality… Accordingly, the family must ensure that the code of honor is observed by its members as transgressions (or mere rumors of such transgressions) are seen as ‘stains’ on the entire family. These stains may have to be cleansed at any cost, if necessary through murder.”

[20d] (Summary p2)

22.51 The same Special Rapporteur report also adds that “What distinguishes honour-related killings from other forms of violence against women is the way they are organized and executed. A family council, which may also include members of the extended kin, decides upon and organizes the murder. A young man or boy is often assigned to commit the crime because it is hoped that the young offender will receive a more lenient sentence. Such murders are often presented as acts of retribution against a woman who supposedly committed an act of grave immorality. However, the demonstrative manner in which they are carried out reveals that they serve mainly to terrorize women as a group in order to uphold patriarchal privilege.”

[20d] (p10)

22.52 The EC 2008 report further added that “The Court of Cassation ruled that sentences for honour killings are given only if there is evidence showing that the murder was committed following a decision of the family assembly. This decision was criticised by a member of the Court, who claimed that it would complicate efforts to eradicate these killings. According to the Prime Ministry Human Rights Directorate, 220 honour killings were reported in the country in 2007, most of which happened in big cities. This is an increase compared with 2006 and illustrates the need to target efforts to raise awareness on women's rights among urban migrants. Finally, there is a need to improve reliability of data on all these issues.”

[71d] (p20)

22.53 A BIA News article ‘The Family Council Becomes an Excuse for Honor Killings of Women’ published 29 August 2008, stated that “Salih Zeki İskender, a member of the Supreme Curt of Appeals 1st Penal Chamber, announced that he would require there to be a ‘family council decision’ in a murder with a motive of custom. Lawyer Nazan Moroğlu, with whom Bianet met about this announcement, said that there was no such criterion in the Penal Code (TCK) and in fact there were no requirements for the murders with the motive of custom. In the section ‘Crimes against Life’, TCK describes ‘the motive of custom’ as one of the qualified murder modes and the sentence for this mode is life in prison. She says that these types of murders are not always made with the decision of the family council, sometimes there are personal decisions behind them.”


22.54 The European Commission 2008 Progress report, published 5 November 2008, maintained that “Efforts to prevent honour killings and domestic violence have continued. However, these issues remain a serious problem, and efforts need to be stepped up.”

[71d] (p21)

22.55 A Bianet article published 23 October 2008, stated that “Özlem Arslan, a young woman from Ağrı in the eastern Turkey, was murdered two hours after her divorce. The reason for her divorce was her husband’s intention to have another wife in addition to her… The young woman was killed by a close range gun shot. Her father İbrahim Şahin, her brother Mustafa Şahin and her ex-husband Mehmet Arslan have been taken into custody in connection with the shooting.”


22.56 Interviewed by the the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey (UKBA FFM) 11 – 20 February 2008, the Turkish NGO Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways (WWHR) said that honour killings tended to be more prevalent in South East and Eastern areas of Turkey (eg Diyarbakir and Van), particularly in Kurdish ethnic/religious communities. However, WWHR noted that honour killings were not confined to this section of the community/geographical area; the issue also affected women such as those in immigrant communities in Istanbul. WWHR also advised that honour killings were unknown in the Alevis community and certain geographical areas, including provinces in the East such as Tunceli.

[59] (S1.9)

22.57 On the issue of reporting incidences of honour killings, WWHR stated that the number of reported honour killings had increased - not because of an increased number of killings but rather an increased willingness to report cases to the authorities. WWHR said that, although still an issue in Turkish society, the number of cases of honour killings did not appear to be on the rise. However, because of increased reporting and the fact that honour killings were often recorded as suicides (ie where girls were forced by their families to kill themselves), it was not possible to be definitive about the level of incidence.

[59] (S1.8)

22.58 The report of the Special Rapporteur ‘Violence against women, its causes and consequences’ by Yakin Erturk, dated May 2006, noted that: “In the past, courts granted reduced sentences for honour murders considering that the perpetrators had been unjustly provoked by the victim’s ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Article 82 of the Penal Code now stipulates that killings in the name of töre have to be considered as a case of aggravated homicide and the perpetrator(s) must be sentenced to life imprisonment.”


22.59 The EU Commission Delegation told the UKBA FFM that with the new Turkish Penal Code which entered into force in 2005, honour killings are now dealt with under article 82, as an aggravated ground for homicide. However, because honour killing crimes were not specifically profiled in statistics recorded for crimes committed under Article 82, it was difficult to get a precise picture of just how prevalent the honour killing issue actually was. Also, a particular profile of honour killing was forced suicide which was often dealt with in crime statistics as a suicide, again making statistical analysis on prevalence of honour killings in Turkey difficult.

[59] (S19.3)

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