Hotlines to calm violent men ‘may not work in Turkey’

Hotlines to calm violent men ‘may not work in Turkey’

Çiğdem Yılmaz - İSTANBUL
Hotlines to calm violent men ‘may not work in Turkey’

As the violence against women and femicides continues to be a deeply rooted and prevalent issue in Turkey, human rights defenders and activists are debating whether the hotlines called “calm lines” will help prevent the violence the way it partly did in Colombia.

Having been in effect in the South American country for a while, the hotline aims to “calm down” men, who are on the verge of resorting to physical violence against their partners, with the help and suggestions of psychologists.

The hotline also puts men at the center of the conversation surrounding violence against women and targets to address the ideology behind their actions.

The hope seems that proactive, preventative and men-focused initiatives will be more effective in eradicating “machismo,” however, there are question marks as to whether this mechanism will work in Turkey, a country where 290 women became victims of femicide just this year.

Speaking to daily Milliyet, women’s rights activists say that this practice will not work well in Turkey and that a mentality transformation with gender equality must be achieved before similar practices can be implemented.

“The main argument of the state should be the dissemination of efforts to prevent and repress violence. In other words, a man needs to know and learn about the wrongdoing of violence and to see himself as an individual,” said Canan Güllü, the president of the Federation of Women’s Associations of Turkey.

Pointing out that the capacities and awareness of the emergency hotlines for women are still controversial, Güllü stated that such new approaches would be doomed to failure before more fundamental steps were taken.

She also noted that women in Turkey were left unprotected against violence with the government’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe treaty designed to eradicate violence against women.

Canan Arın, a women’s rights defender who said that she did not believe that such a hotline could be established in Turkey, also pointed to gender mainstreaming in the country.

Arın said that even if such a hotline was established, the concept of gender equality is not believed in Turkey and that men see themselves as hierarchically superior to women.

Nesrin Dilbaz, an expert psychiatrist, was more optimistic, but she also said that society should first be aware of violent behavior.

“Thanks to this hotline, men notice their tendency to violence and seek help in this sense. Even if this hotline is not the only step toward solving the problem, it will be one of the multiple solutions,” Dilbaz noted.

“When such a hotline is implemented, we will have a chance to evaluate how much of the anger problems men in our society are aware of,” she added.

women's rights,