Activist women debate violence against women, seek solutions

Civil society has been excluded from decision-making processes regarding women, and laws have not been made with the intention of addressing the gender inequality problem but for political purposes, say activist women who recently gathered for a debate on violence against women and a search for solutions.
and”Approaching the issue with equality in mind requires an educated perspective. And lawmakers do not have that. In addition, civil society experts in this regard have been excluded from processes as [government] commissions have been established for political gain,and” said Yakin Ertandurk, former UN special rapporteur on violence against women.
Speaking at a recent conference on violence against women organized by the Equality Watch Womenand’s Group (Eiitiz), Ertandurk underlined that womenand’s control over their own bodies has been often perceived as a threat by states.
She also noted the importance of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention as Turkey was the first country to sign this in 2011.
and”Even though the convention is not binding, it was the first time that violence against women was defined, and the historical and structural inequality between men and women was emphasized,and” she said.
Civil society activists have been trying to draw attention to increasing levels of violence against women in Turkey, and Eiitiz campaigned actively for the passage of laws in this regard.
Murders of women increased by 1,400 percent between 2002 and 2009, according to figures released at the time by the Ministry of Justice. Since 2009, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has not provided official figures on how many women have been killed by men.
According to the We Will Stop Women Homicides Platform (Kadin Cinayetlerini Durduracaiiz Platformu), nearly 300 women were murdered last year, and the figure is 285 so far this year.
Women pointed out that the government does not adequately enforce a law passed in March 2012 (No. 6284) in accordance with the Istanbul Convention, which clearly says that it is the obligation of the state to fully address violence against women in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
Activists also said that authorities have been minimizing the importance of complaints of violence against women.
and”We know the law is male-oriented, and we push its limits,and” said Professor Alev andOzkazanandc, who lectures on womenand’s issues at the Ankara University.
and”We need to think about ways to insert a female point of view into the law to transform it,and” she added, speaking on the same panel as Ertandurk.
At the conference activists emphasized the importance of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)ommittee to take petitions from civil society organizations. Currently most petitions go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which is overloaded with a variety of cases.
However, CEDAW, adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and often described as an international bill of rights for women, has obligations for countries that have ratified it to put its provisions into practice, and according to activists, it can be more effective and faster in handling petitions.
Lawyer and activist Handulya Gandulbahar talked about four approaches that are not conducive to producing solutions towards preventing violence against women:
and”Debating whether violence is increasing or whether it is just becoming more visible — we had these problems in the past, too: trusting old statistics that do not reflect the reality laws that are not enforced and institutional mechanisms that do not work.and”
She also pointed out that the Justice Ministryand’s draft law presented in August, if adopted, will be instrumental in dramatically reducing or even removing sentences for men who commit violence against women because the perpetrators of this crime will be able to use such arguments as threat, blackmail, insult and harassment.
Selen Lermioilu from Eiitiz said a workshop will be held soon to underline the mutual views of activists from organizations that include Women for Womenand’s Human Rights-New Ways (WWHR), Purple Roof Womenand’s Shelter Foundation, Handicapped Womenand’s Association, the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed (Mazlum-Der), and the Istanbul and Trabzon Bar Associations.