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High rates of women's suicide a call for help in eastern city

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News | 9/21/2011 12:00:00 AM |

High rates of women suicides in the eastern province of Van were called into attention by women associations. 22 women were reported to have killed themselves only in the first eight months of 2011

A women’s association in the eastern province of Van has disclosed at a press meeting alarming figures pertaining to the rates of suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence and incest for the present year in the province.

“Studies about incest in our province are almost non-existent. Women who have difficulty in sharing their experiences with incest also feel anxious about referring these problems to positions of authority,” said Aylin Çelik, a sociologist who works at the Van Women’s Association, or VAKAD.

Çelik said 22 women committed suicide in Van during the first eight months of 2011, but they do not know how many of the deaths were actually suicides and not murders.

“When we go to speak to the families of the victims, they are so closed about the issue. Unfortunately there is no witness protection plan in Turkey, so many women avoid speaking,” she told the Hürriyet Daily News.

There is also a serious lack of women’s shelters in Van, Çelik said, adding that they can only host women whose lives are not threatened and the rest go to the state shelter. “However, we learned that three of the women who were killed this year were actually called to make peace with their husbands by officials at the state shelter. The problem is much deeper than negotiating a peace between these women and their husbands,” she said.

Another VAKAD member Gül Kıran says many of the victims are under 18 years old.

“Ten of these women were 18 years old or younger, five were 19 years old, while the remainder was above 19. We have also determined that there were at least five times as many suicide attempts as there were suicides that resulted in death. Again, while some four women were killed, there was also dubious case of death,” VAKAD member Gül Kıran said.

Incest cases

One in five women who apply to the association for having been subjected to sexual violence is also a victim of incest, Çelik said.

“We are quite worried that 26.4 percent of the women who appeal to the association have declared they have been subjected to incest. The rate of sexual violence at 30.9 percent is the most striking alongside incest,” said Çelik.

Some 378 women and four homosexuals from central Van and the region applied to the association during the first eight months of this year, Kıran said.

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