The phenomenon of violence that has been observed in different dimensions throughout history with both its individual and social levels and unfortunately seems to be an integral part of life. 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.
Violence against women, whether applied in public or private life, means any act of violence based on sex that is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological damage or has challenged women with a variety of actions, including threats, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The World Health Organization has defined the violence as a “global public health problem” explaining the types and forms of violence as follows:
Physical Violence: All aggressive behaviours based on the use of force and aiming to cause physical harm are all considered as physical violence.
Sexual Violence: Description of sexual violence includes forced sexual intercourse, undesired sexual behavior, disturbing, unwanted sexual commentary, compliments and/or sexual speech, which can be performed in all kinds of settings, especially at work and home. Accordingly, oppression and coercion can manifest themselves in the form of threats and psychological pressure as well as the physical. The consequences of sexual violence against women could be divided into three groups; non-fatal outcomes (unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, gynecological problems, self-harmful behaviors, abortions, headache), psychological consequences (depression, fear, anxiety, low self-esteem, sexual disorders, and deadly consequences (suicide, killing, HIV/AIDS).
Psychological Violence: All attacks aimed with the aim to destruct or harm an individual’s self-awareness and personality are defined as psychological violence. In this case, psychological violence is a process that starts with one person being targeted by one or more people and resumes with regular attacks on an ongoing basis, resulted in rendering them helpless. Psychological violence, first and foremost, involves an emotional attack. The individual is constantly attacking with malicious behavior, mockery, humiliation, degrading or destroying their social reputation.
Abstinence and Negligence: The main reason why abstinence and negligence are perceived as violence is the intentional motive behind it. Individuals can be punished by being deprived of something they want to obtain. For example, affectionately deprivation can be assessed within the context of psychological violence; such as obstruction to reach education, participation in social life, can also drag individuals into frustration. Negligence may be directed at the individual, and the surrounding individuals or the environment around her. Deprivation and negligence could follow each other or be reciprocated. Those who are deprived might punish the perpetrator of deprivation with neglect. In either case, the person who is prevented could turn psychological violence from time to time into physical violence.
Violence situations that women are exposed to could be described as; domestic violence, community violence, and organized/social violence.
- According to research; 20-30% of women are subjected to physical or sexual violence by their spouse/partner during a period of their life. The studies carried out in Turkey that reveals that physical violence 26-58’% of women are exposed to physical violence, victimized by violence of all kinds in the family (beatings, humiliation, abuse, rape).
- The platform named “ We will stop the female homicides” established after the planned and brutal murder of Münevver Karabulut in 2009. Platform tracks the number of female homicides in Turkey and according to the declaration situation is as below;
|NUMBER OF MURDERS|
- Amongst total 409 female homicide victims in 2017 39% were murdered by husband, boyfriend or ex-husband or ex-boyfriend, 33% were by unidentified people, 24% by their father, son, step son or a relative.
- All across to Turkey; Istanbul where 57 women were killed has the highest female homicide rates in 2017, was followed by Antalya with 25 murders, Bursa with 17 murders, Adana with 17 murders, Gaziantep with 15 murders. Thus, women were killed in 63 cities, in 18 city including Tunceli, Rize, Erzurum, Kırklareli and Hakkari female homicides had not been committed.
It is a paradox in itself that these women who suffer emotional and physical violence kept living in such an environment of violence. Due to the acceptance of society’s ongoing perception on role of women as “self-sacrificing and giving women” that endures for the sake of children and social well-being of the sacred family, as well as the social pressure to not disclose secrets that falls within the boundaries between husband and wife carried women into a depressive situation that doesn’t leave any place for solution. Even in the marriages between highly educated couples, the woman exposed to violence often stays silent and endures violence to sustain her marriage due to this social pressure imposed for many years. In summary; With the effect of social status, economic oppression, the pressure of the social environment, lack of self-confidence and stereotyped gender roles, women continue their victimizing violent marriages at the expense of being unhappy despite the sick treatment they have faced.
Violence against women should be treated as a social problem and sanctions should be introduced for the prevention and emanation of the violence against women in cooperation with the active participation of all bodies of state and society besides these sanctions should create a change in social mentality and perspective. Systematic and coordinated work of government agencies and intermediary bodies for the prevention of violence against women is highly strategic and vital.
With legal sanctions, efforts should be made to detect and prevent sexual violence and sexual activities for women on the media and on the internet by regulating educational programs in schools to change the general understanding of society about violence. Without these sanctions, it is not possible to expect a social improvement as a society. Because in a society where sanctions are not powerful, women and children will continue to be exposed to violence and harassment, they will be deprived of social support and protection, and if they are left alone, the problem could worsen as they pushed into more complex problems and traps such as drug gangs, trafficking of women and children therefore harm to society would be inevitable as the situation becomes more complex and difficult to handle.
- Legal Regulations
While some of the human rights instruments explicitly include regulations for violence against women, some include regulations on sex-based discrimination and gender equality; while others are a guide to violence against women as they are fundamental texts.
In particular, there is a strong link to the struggle to prevent or eliminate violence against women of equality, sex offense discrimination, right to life, equality before the law, right to work, right to health, right to education. When social gender-based violence is thought to be a form of discrimination, the legislation on discrimination concerns the issue of violence against women, although not directly. Especially in texts regulating discrimination based on sex, violence against women and discrimination are closely related. Some of the leading decisions of the European Court of Human Rights regarding to the mentioned discrimination are stated below;
- The former husband of Nahide Opuz repeatedly threatened and harmed Nahide Opuz during the marriage, Nahide Opuz was stabbed from seven different places by his husband and deadly injured. His ex-wife has perpetrated violence not only to the Applicant but also her mother and crushed both of them by car. As a result, the Turkish authorities have taken the ex-husband into custody, but have released him in a short term. The Applicant’s ex-husband, on 11.02.2003, murdered the Applicant’s mother, although the Applicant and her mother had repeatedly communicated with the police to inform them that their lives were in jeopardy yet no protective measures or investigations were imposed. Although the European Court of Human Rights does not have a specific provision on violence against women in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and does not enter into the Court’s mandate, in the case of Opuz v. Turkey the Court decided as to demonstrate positive discrimination that Turkey has breached Article 2 of the Convention which regulates the right to life, Article 3 which regulates the prohibition of torture, Article 8 regulating protection of private and family life , Article 14 the regulation against discrimination.
Opuz v. Turkey – “The Court, reminding general and discriminatory judicial passivity in Turkey although not lead with a deliberate motive has essentially affected women, keeping in mind the observations made above, considers the violence applicant and his mother suffered from constitutes an example of societal gender-based violence which is form of discrimination against women.”
European Court of Human Rights
- In the event of the murder of Applicants’ mothers Selma Civek by his father, the European Court of Human Rights has decided that the right to life set out in Article 2 of the Convention was violated.
Civek v. Turkey – “The Court has found that, in particular, the Turkish authorities have been informed of the serious threats to the life of Selma Civek and, despite the continuing threats and harassment complaints failed to take necessary precautions to ensure that Selma Civek is protected from being murdered. The Court has also taken into account that the authorities concerned have implemented a number of measures, including investigation, confiscation and judicial review, against Selma Civek’s husband, but none of them are appropriate measures and did not prevent her murder on 12 November 2010 which coincides with the husband’s date of release. Since the Court found that Article 2 had been violated, this left out the need to examine whether Article 14 was violated or not, as claimed by the Applicants. “
European Court of Human Rights
- Fatma Babatlı’s mothers who applied to the European Court of Human Rights with the file named Halime Kılıç vs Turkey for murder of her daughter by her husband despite four complaints to the police and protection order given three times and all injunctions; The Court finds that there is a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which regulates the right to life, and Article 14, which regulates the prohibition of discrimination.
Halime Kilic v. Turkey – “the Court has detected that, within the scope of Article 2 of the Convention in respect of the protection specifically provided by local administrative has failed to manage the protection process of Fatma Babatlı. Local mechanisms that failed to apply sanctions against Fatma Babatlı’s husband’s due to his ignorance and indifference towards the Court decision given against him created a “context of impunity” that does results in a special privilege that allows her husband to harass his wife. The court also found that Fatma Babatlı was left unprotected against her husband’s repetitive violent behavior and death threats, and this situation actually constitutes a condonation of the offence and leaves space for domestic violence and unacceptable.
European Court of Human Rights
While the violence that women suffer in the name of prevention and elimination of both national and made a lot of calls on the international arena, Turkey has also a party to such agreement. The purpose of all this; to provide a better quality of life and to avoid any kind of violence.
1 a. International Legal Regulations
1.a.a. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
This agreement aims to develop the human rights of women at the United Nations (UN) level among the parties to the contract. CEDAW, adopted in 1979 enforced in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly and entered into force with acknowledgement of the Republic of Turkey in 1985.
1.a.b Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
A State Party to the present Protocol shall recognize the Committee for the Prevention of Discrimination against Women’s authority to accept and examine the applications to be made.
The applications may be filed in case of a breach by the State Party of any individual or group of individuals under the jurisdiction of the States Parties, or on behalf of them, of any of the rights set forth in the Convention
1.a.c. Fourth World Women’s Conference Decisions
This conference, held on September 15, 1995 in Beijing, adopted the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform attached to these resolutions and recommended that the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform be ratified at the Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly as adopted by the Conference.
1.b. National Legal Regulations
1.b.a. Constitution: is the fundamental text. Important provisions for prevention of domestic violence Articles 5,10,12,17,19 and 41 of the Constitution of Republic of Turkey rejects all kinds of discrimination and regulates equality. The rejection and equality of discrimination also means the removal of factors that cause violence against women within the family.
- According to Article 5 of the Constitution titled “The Main Objectives and Duties of the State”; to remove the political, economic and social obstacles that limit the fundamental rights and freedoms in order to ensure the peace and happiness of the people and the society, in a manner incompatible with the principles of social law oriented government and justice and to prepare the necessary conditions for the development of material and spiritual existence.
- Article 10 entitled “Equality Before the Law” and Article 2 added on 07.05.2004 are an important step towards positive discrimination: “Women and men have equal rights. The state is obliged to ensure that this equality goes into effect.”
- “Everyone has untouchable, inalienable, indispensable fundamental rights and freedoms related to their personality.” Is stated under Article 12 which guarantees the basic right to live without violence.
- Article 17 Paragraph 3 prohibits violence: “No torture or persecution can be committed to anyone; no one shall be subject to any penalty or treatment incompatible with human dignity.”
- Article 19 entitled “Freedom of the Person and Security”; With the regulation “Everyone has the freedom and security of the person.”, The freedom of woman is assured under the entity of “person”.
- Article 41 of the Constitution, which is the source of the enactment of another national Law No. 6284 on the Protection of the Family sets out “The state takes the necessary measures to ensure the peace and welfare of the family and especially the protection of the mother and children and the application of family planning education. It establishes necessary organs to satisfy these purposes.”
- According to Article 41 which was amended on the date of 3.10.2001 as “Turkish society is based on family institution and is based on equality between spouses.”
1.b.b Turkish Criminal Code: Under Criminal Code, crime definitions were added to prevent violence against women; rape against wife was considered a criminal offense, honor killings were accepted as aggravating factor rather than mitigating factor, and they were regulated under the scope of “intentional first-degree murder”. The punishment to be taken in case of intentional homicide against the wife is punished with the aggravated life imprisonment.
1.b.c Turkish Civil Code: With the Civil Code dated 1926, marriages at the age of child and polygamy was prohibited, the official marriage institution and the woman had the freedom to freely choose their husbands by expressing their wishes for marriage in the presence of the State official and witnesses, with equal rights to divorce and custody on their children. With the Civil Code No. 4721, which entered into force on 22.11.2001, gender equality in family law has improved to a higher state than the previous law.
1.b.d. Law on the Establishment, Duties and Trial Procedures of Family Courts: Family Tribunals are important because they are expert courts to establish and strengthen a modern family model based on equality, which is required by the Civil Code and particularly the Constitution, to prevent domestic violence and all the duties and authorization of Family Courts are stated under this code.
1.b.e. Law Numbered 6284 on the Protection of the Family: It is also possible describe this law as protection code. For victims of violence; it is possible to obtain a “protection order” by applying to the nearest Family Court, police stations and/or Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
This Law is such a kod and secret code which must be known by every women. But However; the rate of awareness amongst victims of violence and that benefitted from this law and women who are heard about this Law is pretty low in Turkey. This is because; women who are subjected to violence lack of courage due to their economic weaknesses and the fear that their allegations will not be taken seriously and violent acts will be repeated because the aggressor will be somehow exempt from the punishment in practice and also they are not informed well regarding that.
- Who is able ask for a protection order?
People who are directly or indirectly exposed to or are at risk of being classified as violent in their conduct and persons who are or are at risk of violence are defined as “violence victims”. For example;
- One of the spouses,
- One of the other family members living in the same house,
- One of the family members who are legally entitled to separate living or who actually lives separately despite being married.
3- To whom is the decision addressed at?
It is also seen that domestic violence is perpetrated by also mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, son-in-law. In this frame, the definition of “violent” stated under the code as “a person who implements attitudes and behaviors defined as violence or who is in danger of using violance against”.
4- Implementation Steps
4.a. Application to the Police Headquarters
- The nearest police station should be visited and the complaint of the victim should be recorded. If the victim is able to speak, he or she should declare basic information about himself and the Suspect, such as identity and address information.
- Adopting a victim-oriented approach in police centers for domestic violence cases. If the victim needs urgent medical intervention, this need should be met immediately; he should be reminded of the existence of legal support that they may be assisted with an attorney.
- Victims and suspects at the scene of the incident or in the police station should never be in the same environment.
- Since domestic violence can also manifest itself as sexual violence, it is essential that the privacy of the victim is respected and that privacy is given importance.
- The Police Station is responsible for informing the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office immediately if the victim is injured or needs protection / asylum.
4.b. Application to the Public Prosecutor’s Office
- It is possible to apply directly to the Public Prosecutor’s Office instead of the Police Center.
- In order to obtain a healthy result; the address of the person, the victim, the persons who carried out the act of violence, the time of the act of violence, the time of the act of violence, the tools used should be covered in detail under the complaint.
4.c. Direct Application to the Family Court
- It is possible to apply directly to the Emergency Family Court without consulting the Police Headquarters or the Chief Public Prosecutor.
- It is beneficial to include the document even though documentation of violence is not mandatory for applications.
- Application is not subjected to a fee.
- Protection decision is given without hearing.
- Measures to be taken within the scope of protection decision
With regard to those who commit violence, one of the following preventive measures, several or similar measures to be deemed appropriate may be decided by the judge:
- a) not being in a state of violence, insult, humiliation or humiliation in respect of a victim of violence.
b) immediate removal from the common house or place of residence and allocation to the protected person of the common house.
c) To the protected persons, these persons do not approach the housing, the school and the workplace.
ç) If there is a decision to establish a previously established personal relationship with the child, the personal relationship should be accompanied by a companion, limitation of the personal relationship or removal altogether.
d) The protected person, if necessary, should not approach their children, even if they have not been subjected to violence, while keeping their relatives, witnesses and personal relationships.
e) The protected person does not harm personal or household goods.
f) Not to disturb the protected person by means of communication or otherwise.
g) delivering the weapons permitted by law to the possession or relocation to the army.
ğ) to deliver the weapon of embezzlement to the institution even if carrying out a mandatory public duty.
h) Ensuring that protected persons do not use alcohol or drugs or stimulants in the area where they are present, or that they are protected from the effects of these substances and that they do not approach the place where they live, and that if there is dependence, they are examined and treated, including in the hospital.
i) Application and treatment of a medical institution for examination or treatment.
- Application of the Protection Order
The unit that would implement the measures given in relation to the protection decision is the Police Center. For the implementation of this decision, a copy is delivered to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office sends it to the relevant local police station for the enforcement of this registered decision and monitors the application through the police station.
A copy of the case must also be reported to the perpetrator of violence by the Police Headquarters in order for the decision to be implemented properly.
In case the law enforcement officers determine that the protection order is not complied with; without victim’s complaint, the document is automatically sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to conduct an investigation ex officio. Penalty for violation of the protection order is between three days to ten days imprisonment. In each repetition of the violation of the requirement of the measure, the duration of the compulsory stay is from fifteen days to thirty days, depending on the nature of the violation measure and the weight of the violation. However, the total duration of the duress can not exceed six months.
- Local Platforms
- Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation
Mor Çatı acted together with its volunteers since 1990, the year it was founded; to provide psychological support to women who are suffering from violence against hopelessness, fear, guilt, and delinquency, and to describe and teach their legal rights to them. Each day 10 applications of the victimized women reaches to the Mor Çatı’s Solidarity Center.
- Women’s Legal Support Center Association
This association is intended to meet all kinds of activities for the realization, freedom, investigation and evaluation of women’s human rights, prevention of violations of rights, detection of crimes, violations and other acts in legal assistance and help in the time of the incident and when necessary; as well as providing social and psychological counseling services and training programs.
- Women’s Human Rights – New Solutions Association
This association is an independent women’s rights NGO aims in Turkey and in the international arena to prevent discrimination while supporting and fighting for in order to emancipate discrimination. In 1993, founded with the purpose of development of women’s human rights in Turkey and in the world; It took the name of the congress held in Vienna on the year women’s rights are established as human rights as its title’s inspiration.
It is necessary to raise women’s awareness firstly in order to prevent the murder of women who are increasing in number, to reduce the severity of the violence that women are exposed to, and eventually to abolish it altogether. In this context, it is necessary to educate future generations with this consciousness with the assumption that the woman and man should be equal in priority. The society, especially schools, the media and the national press, should be informed about the institutions against which the society can apply in the face of present violence and in the face of these violence. violence against women in Turkey, is the most painful part of the community should be considered as a social problem. In this case, it will be possible to educate future generations with the sense of equality that exists and remove violence from the scene.
Att. Mert YALÇIN
Att. Melis YOKAY
Trainee Att. Özgü HOROZAL
- United Nations, “Declaration on the Removal of Violence Against Women”
- Tijan Harcar, Özlem Çakır, Olga Sürgevil, Gönül Budak – “Violence and Violence Status Against Women in Turkey Against Women”, thematic texts, Society and Democracy, 2 (4), in April-December 2008
- Kocacık and Dogan, 2006; T. C. Prime Ministry Directorate General on the Status of Women, 2008
- Mayda and Akkus, 2003
- We Will Stop Female Homicides Platform 2017 Data Report
- Erdem, 2007 p.53-54
- “National and International Legal Regulations Regarding Domestic Violence Against Women”, T.C. Prime Ministry General Directorate on the Status of Women, December 2008
- Ayşegül Güngör, “International Law Regulations Concerning Women’s Rights” – Ankara Bar Association
- ECHR 227 (2016) (issued by the Registrar of the Court
- ECHR 069 (2016) European Court of Human Rights Press Release issued by Registrar of the Court