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Murder a fact of life for women in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Daily News with Radikal | 2/20/2011 12:00:00 AM |

With nearly a thousand women murdered in Turkey in 2009 according to new data from the Justice Ministry, the country has witnessed a drastic increase since 66 women were murdered in 2002. ‘The reason behind violence against women is the imbalance of power in society,’ an activist says

The number of women murdered in a year in Turkey shot up 1,400 percent between 2002 and 2009, according to data recently revealed by the country’s justice minister.

Some 66 women were murdered in Turkey in 2002, but the numbers have been steadily increasing since then, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said in response to a parliamentary question from Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, Van Deputy Fatma Kurtalan.

Eighty-three women were murdered in 2003, 164 in 2004, 317 in 2005, 663 in 2006, 1,011 in 2007, 806 in 2008 and 953 during the first seven months of 2009, the last date for which data was available, according to Ergin.

For Professor Aysel Çelikel, head of the Support for Contemporary Living Association, or ÇYDD, the high increase in the number of murdered women stems from gender inequality and Turkey’s increasingly conservative society.

“Women’s rights are going backward as much as conservatism is increasing in society,” Çelikel told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Sunday.

There is a direct correlation between the increase in the inequality between the genders and the increased level of violence men commit against women, she said.

“According to international reports, the reason behind violence against women is the imbalance of power and the inequality between men and women in society,” Çelikel said.

The only way to solve the problem of such violence is to ensure gender equality, Çelikel said.

“Changing the roles and attitudes of men and women within the family and society while also strengthening the role of women is the only solution in defeating violence against women,” the professor said.

“From 2002 to July 2009, a total of 12,678 cases were opened because of violence and murders,” Ergin told Parliament. “Some 15,564 people were tried in those cases, and 6,736 were sentenced. In those cases, 1,869 people were acquitted and 794 people were given parole.”

[HH] Nearly half of Turkish women experience violence

According to a government study titled “Research on Domestic Violence against Women in Turkey,” 41.9 percent of Turkish women are subjected to physical and sexual violence. Women at a “low-income level” are assaulted at a rate of 49.9 percent, while the number for higher-income women is still high, at 28.7 percent.

Some 55.8 percent of women who have no education or have not finished primary education are subjected to violence, while 27.2 percent of women with at least a high school diploma or higher are the victims, the study said.

Some 48.5 percent of women experience some form of violence but do not disclose their victimization, the study said, adding that women with a lower income (54.1 percent) were more likely to stay silent about being assaulted than women with more education (37.5 percent).

Some 23.4 percent of women have been forced by men to quit their jobs or have been prevented from working; in the lower-income category, this figure is 21.5 percent while it is 21.2 percent for those with higher incomes.

Altogether, 33.7 percent of women said they considered suicide as a solution to their problems. For those with less education, this number is 34.1 percent, while 37.6 of higher educated women have also considered taking their own lives.

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