In 2005, there were only 16 shelters in Turkey for survivors of domestic violence. To deal with this, Turkey passed a law mandating that municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants open at least one shelter for survivors of domestic violence. According to this 2005 law, over 3,000 shelters should have been opened around the country.
Fourteen years later, there are now only 90 government shelters in all of Turkey. According to the latest U.S. State Department Human Rights report on Turkey,
Observers noted that there were an inadequate number of shelters, or no shelters at all, in many such cities [over 50,000 inhabitants]. . . Two shelters in Ankara and Istanbul were closed through March due to insufficient funding. Through August 31, the government’s domestic violence hotline received 75,836 calls regarding violence, negligence, or exploitation.
As Al Monitor correspondent Thomas Siebert noted, “polls suggest that almost 40% of women in Turkey suffer domestic violence at least once in their lives.” And yet as women’s activist Tevhide Yagan tells Siebert, Sakarya, a Turkish province of 900,000 people, has only one women’s shelter with a capacity to house 10 victims of domestic violence.
In its executive summary on human rights in Turkey, the U.S. Department of State notes that “the government did not effectively protect vulnerable populations, including women, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, from societal abuse, discrimination, and violence. Violence against women, including so-called honor killings, remained a significant problem, and child marriage persisted.”
March 8 is International Women’s Day. One can only hope this may inspire the Turkish government to provide more adequate protection for this besieged sector of its population.
Bill Jones, Chair
Turkey Country Group, Amnesty International – USA