While the medical struggle continues against the Covid-19 pandemic which already took the whole world under the influence, the effects of this pandemic are felt not only in the field of health but in all parts of life. On these days which the social isolation is of great importance in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic, millions of people are currently staying at their homes both in our country and all over the world and do not go out on the streets because of Covid-19 outbreak. However, this situation brings other problems along. Undoubtedly, the most striking one of these problems is the increasing number of domestic violence cases.
The World Health Organization has also defined violence as “a global public health problem”.
Violence as the widest spread struggling issue almost amongst every society, has always been applied to the women most. Women are often exposed to physical, psychological, social and economic consequences of violence and violence itself; causing the women’s quality of life to decline to a large extent. Women and children are subjected to violence “in the family” more, which is considered as the most protected place. In its report published in 2019 by the United Nations, the following statement is made: “The most dangerous place for the women is their homes.”. Again, according to the data of the Ministry of the Interior Affairs, women are mostly killed in their homes.
Pandemics may cause material and social losses for everyone all around the world. This situation causes people who do not have the skills to deal with stress and anxiety, anger control, conflict resolution and communication to resort to violence or to use more violence against family members especially against -women and children-.
According to the March 2020 Report of “We Will Stop Femicide” Platform, a total of 21 women were killed since 11 March which is the date when the first Covid-19 case is seen in Turkey and until the end of March. Moreover, it is also determined that the number of calls made to the hotlines are increased visibly.
In our country, women are currently hesitating to go to the hospital even to get a battering report due to the risk of transmission of Covid-19 virus. Students who return to their family houses upon the schools are closed wish to make a complaint about the violence they witness or they are subjected to, however they may change their mind due to fact that the party who uses violence is in the risk group in terms of the age or chronic disease factor. Violence victims or those who witnessed violence may withdraw their complaint about violence to the relevant authorities because of worrying about the violent party would have to stay in unhealthy conditions during this difficult Covid-19 outbreak process, or because of the possibility of not applying measures such as the removal of the violent party from the communal residence due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the concern of being obliged to live in the same residence with the violent party.
MEASURES THAT CAN BE BENEFITED UNDER THE LAW NUMBERED 6284
Rights regarding the protection of the family and the prevention of violence against women are regulated and protected under Law Numbered 6284. Some of the measures that may be ruled in the favour of the Victim of Violence under this Law are as follows:
- Providing appropriate shelter for the violence victim and for the children with her, if necessary, at the location where she is or at another place.
- Providing temporary financial aid, by reserving any other aid under other laws.
- Providing psychological, vocational, legal and social guidance and counselling services.
- Taking the victim under protection programme upon the request of the person concerned or ex officio in case of a life-threatening situation,.
- Providing the child-care opportunity limited to four months or limited to a two-month period if the protected person works from the budget of the Ministry with the condition of not exceeding half of the monthly net minimum wage determined annually for those over the age of sixteen and being documented for the children if the protected person has any with the purpose of supporting their participation in working life.
- Changing the workplace.
- Determining a separate residence besides the communal residence, in case the person is married.
- Adding “a family residence annotation” on the land registry upon the request of the protected person and in case the conditions under the Turkish Civil Code Numbered 4721 dated 22/11/2001 are met.
- Changing the identity and other relevant information and documents as based on the protected person’s informed consent in accordance with the provisions of Witness Protection Law dated 27/12/2007 and numbered 5726, in case that it is understood that there is a life-threatening situation for the protected person and other measures would not be sufficient to prevent this danger.
Again, within the scope of the Law Numbered 6284, the following measures may be ruled against the Violent Party by the Judge:
- Not using words and behaviours including threats of violence, insults, contempt or humiliation against the violence victim.
- Immediate removal of the violent party from the communal residence or location and allocating the communal residence to the protected person.
- Not coming closer to the protected person, the houses, schools and workplaces where the protected person is.
- Having the personal relationship visitation accompanied by a companion, having the personal relationship visitation limited or removed entirely, if there is a decision made previously regarding the establishment of personal relationship with children, the personal relationship should be accompanied by, the personal relationship should be limited or removed entirely.
- Not coming closer to the protected person’s relatives, witnesses and children who are not even subjected to violence, by reserving the situations about the establishment of the personal relationship.
- Not damaging the personal belongings and household items of the protected person.
- Not disturbing the protected person through communication instruments or in any other way.
- Handing the weapons that are legally allowed to be possessed or to be carried over to the law enforcement offices.
- Handing the weapon over to the relevant institution even if the violent party performs a public duty which he is obliged to carry a weapon for.
- Not using alcohol or drugs in the places where the protected people are or not coming closer to protected people and their locations while being under the influence of these substances and providing the examination and treatment including hospitalization in case of addiction.
However, the opinion of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors which is explained under the Article 10 of the decision dated 30.03.2020; regarding “the measures taken under the Law Numbered 6284 should be evaluated in a way that does not threaten the health of the obliged in terms of Coronavirus”, may cause not applying the measure of removal of the violent party; this decision may increase the domestic violence even more in our country where the domestic violence cases are seen too often even in such period when the domestic violence is increasing due to Covid-19 outbreak and may cause the children and women to be left unprotected and contains serious risks in this regard.
Regarding this issue; the Women Law Commission of Turkish Bar Associations has requested the measures which would prevent the domestic violence and take the women and children under protection to be taken by the relevant institutions and organizations during Covid-19 outbreak and the removal of the Article 10 of the decision dated 30.03.2020 of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors.
MEASURES MAY BE TAKEN TO PREVENT THE INCREASE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING THE ISOLATION PROCESS BROUGHT ALONG BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
- Access to women’s rights should be eased and there should be no failure on report and support lines.
- Shelters should comply with the measures taken within the scope of Covid-19 pandemic and, if needed, the places that are not currently used should be made available for women’s right to safe housing.
- Women who are included in working life should be prevented from being in the first category to be fired, cancellation/termination of employment contracts should be prohibited.
- Women should be able to perform transactions such as applications and submission of documents online and on digital media, the document requirement should be minimized.
- Law enforcement officers should fully apply the Law Numbered 6284 on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence Against Women.
- Public service ads, live broadcasts and trainings regarding the Law Numbered 6284 should be organized and women who may be possible victims of violence should be informed by experts about this issue and their rights.
Considering all these, it is vital to take such measures in order to prevent more threats of domestic violence and women deaths in addition to the threat brought along by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Victims of violence can call the hotlines of 155 Police, 156 Gendarmerie, 183 Ministry and support lines of bar associations and request emergency assistance.
- Violence victims who are unable to make a phone call because of being in the same environment with the violent party can download the KADES application of the Ministry of Interior Affairs to their cell phones and they can bring the police to the location with pressing a button.
- All kinds of urgent measures within the scope of Law Numbered 6284, especially the protection and removal measures, can be applied during the Covid-19 pandemic as well.
- Violence victims who does not have any other sheltering possibility due to violence threat or economic conditions, can request asylum by calling 183 or going/calling to the nearest police station/gendarme.