Are women confined to the home?

Are women confined to the home?

After attending the Global Women Leaders’ Forum in Sofia last week, I was quite pessimistic on my return. 

The reason for my pessimism was that despite seeing positive steps taken everywhere from China, to Mexico, to Africa, I could understand with deep sorrow that Turkey is actually falling behind the acquired rights in this field. 

Turkey had declined in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2015. While it was 125th out of 142 countries in 2014, it fell to 130th out of 145 countries in 2015. The report also put Turkey in 131st place in the list for economic participation and opportunities. 

Now, a report by the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK) three days ago gave signals that we will even further fall back. According to a study based on OECD and Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data, the rate of young women out of work and not studying increased to 46 percent. Thus, some 92,000 women were added to the number of women confined to their homes. 

According to TİSK, almost one in every two women is out of both education and work. According to OECD data, even in Mexico, which resembles Turkey in many aspects, the same rate is over 10 percentage points lower at 35.1 percent. 

This is not the only reason increasing my pessimism. I was also disturbed by the report prepared by parliament’s “Divorce Commission,” which aimed to research the factors that negatively affect the family structure and lead to rising divorces. The report of this commission, charged with determining measures to strengthen the family institution, alarmed many women’s organizations. 

According to organizations that have dedicated years to defending women’s rights, the commission aims to curb the rights of women and children to a great extent.  

The report, drafted without consulting experienced women’s organizations, is frightening. For instance, the Mor Çatı (Purple Roof) Women’s Shelter Foundation, a pioneering organization in its field, describes it as “a certificate of shame.”

The report unacceptably recommends paving a legal path for rapists to marry the children they have attacked, restricting protective police measures for women subject to violence, and limiting the alimony granted to women to certain periods. 

As Mor Çatı recalled, Turkey had once boasted of being the first signatory of the Istanbul Convention. This convention, signed in 2011, was the first international pact on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. 

The Istanbul Convention is a Council of Europe document that establishes obligations for the signatories to take legal measures to prevent all kinds of physical, sexual, economic and emotional violence. 

Even though Turkey was the first country to sign the convention, and even though it was ratified in the Turkish Parliament in 2011, it is not practiced here. In fact, the latest report prepared by the divorce commission in parliament has proven that Turkey does not have any intention to practice the convention either.