With its population of more than 83 million, Turkey has only 145 shelters for women who escape from domestic violence and threats to their lives. According to the Gender Equality Report 2020, Turkey ranked 130 of 153 countries, while in a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Turkey was ranked first in violence against women.
The total capacity of shelters in Turkey is only 3,482 and according to the data of the We Will Stop Femicide Platform (KCDP) for 2020, 300 women were killed in the country and 171 died in suspicious circumstances. The same data indicates that 23 women who lost their lives had suspensions or protection orders, and 45 women had complained to the police. This means they applied for help, but neither the government nor the police helped them.
The Star Women’s Organisation is one of the groups that works against domestic violence. Based in the Van (Wan) province of Turkey, members of the organisation work hard to support women who are victims of domestic violence. Now they are starting a new campaign.
Meryem Aslan, a member of the Star Women’s Association, said the campaign will begin on 16 March with the participation of 29 associations. She spoke to the Mesopotamia News Agency about the details of the campaign and called for women to join them.
“According to the 14th Article of the Municipalities Law, ‘Metropolitan Municipalities and municipalities with a population of more then 100,000 are obliged to open a shelter for women and children'”, said Aslan, adding that Turkey is far away from this target. “There are only nine shelters in 30 metropolitan cities”, she said.
She also stated that even the conditions in the existing shelters are poor, using the example of the only shelter in their city. “There is only one shelter in Van and if you think of the population of the city, that is not enough. Women are allowed to stay there for a limited period, only one month, but after that where will they go?” asked Aslan.
“Boys over the age of 10 cannot stay with their mothers. Mothers also do not want to give up their children. Because of this, women try to find different places. Most of the time they go back to the places they wanted to escape”.
She also said that the number of places that women can go was further decreased with the closure of women’s institutions and associations by the state, due to the trustee politics of the AKP government against Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Municipalities.
Aslan said that the situation worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. “We receive a lot of applications, especially from the Saray district. Activities should be organised in coordination with the local governments to stop the violence, and we also need to rectify the conditions in shelters immediately”. She also observed that applications to their association have increased by five times in recent years.
The Star Women’s Association is working in coordination with the Violence Prevention and Monitoring Centre (ŞÖNİM). “We are sending women to ŞÖNİM when they need protection”, said Aslan. “However, women cannot stay in shelters for a long time because the shelters are insufficient”.
Along with other associations working on the same problem, the Star Women’s Association will launch a new campaign to draw attention to the issue on 16 March.