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Family Minister Fatma Şahin. AA photo

Family Minister Fatma Şahin. AA photo

Proper documentation of domestic violence against women and children and of women’s deaths due to domestic violence began only a year ago with the establishment of the Family and Social Affairs Ministry, ministry officials said yesterday, adding that therefore the suggestion that there has been an increase in the number of women who are victims of gender-based violence would be misleading for the moment.

“What we see is an increase in the visibility of these kinds of incidents, thanks to rising awareness,” the officials said, speaking with Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. “In the past, there was no proper documentation of incidents involving victims of gender-based violence, because these incidents were being reported as ordinary crimes by both police stations and prosecutors. After the ministry was created, the necessary arrangements were made for the proper classification of these crimes, and thus violence against women has become more visible. This visibility is leading to an assumption that there is an increase in violence.” The exact results of the documentation will probably be announced by the minister herself, they said.

The explanation on the issue came a day after Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Şahin’s presentation on the evening of July 19, reviewing her first 365 days in office. The Family and Social Affairs Ministry was created in July 2011, previous to which a state ministry was responsible for women’s and family affairs.

Last year Turkey became the first signatory to a key Council of Europe (CoE) treaty to combat violence against women, Şahin said, adding that other CoE members, such as France and Germany, were delaying signing because of the potential financial burden the treaty could bring.

“For us, life is very important, and it’s our duty to protect women’s lives. We said that financial concerns could not play a part in this issue,” Şahin said, noting that Turkey has already begun related trainings, although the treaty has not yet gone into force.

On the issue of disabled access, which also falls under the ministry’s jurisdiction, architecture students will receive required education on making buildings and public places accessible to disabled people through a joint study between the ministry and the Higher Education Board (YÖK), Şahin said. The assignment of disabled people to 7,700 vacant public servant positions will be finalized in August, she said.

Inspiration from Steve Jobs’ example

The life of Steve Jobs was an inspiration for Şahin, whose ministry is charged, among other things, with providing services to children under state protection. Şahin said she offers the story of Apple co-founder Jobs’ difficult early life to children to encourage them to have ambitious goals for the future.
“We told them, ‘You have everything you need [to be successful]. You can attend Harvard University. Steve Jobs was also an orphan,’” Şahin said of her conversation with children at a science camp jointly organized with the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).

July/21/2012

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