A woman to improve the judiciary in Turkey?
The Istanbul Bar Association, which is the biggest bar in the world with 40,000 members, is going to elections.
Bars are not just professional organizations; they are defenders of justice, the guarantee of the right of defense in society.
That’s why the question of who heads the bars are not just an issue for lawyers – it is an issue that interests us all, especially this time around, when rights violations are hitting new highs each day.
Five different groups will compete and one of them has a woman candidate for president, Several Ballıkaya.
The bar has never had a woman president in its 138-year history, with women nominated as a candidate to head the bar just three times. In her 26-year career, Ballıkaya has been at the center of the struggle for human rights and democracy, standing behind the victims of torture or parents who have lost their children due to extrajudicial execution. She followed their cases with the principle that every victim of injustice needs to be defended.
She wants to rule the bar with the same approach.
Ballıkaya says pertinent problems regarding women are not being reflected in the current working style of the bar. She complains that violence against women, women’s murders and discriminatory practices against women have not come to the agenda of the bar, saying it has refrained from taking active action on these issues.
She talks about the possibility that the bar’s women rights center could become more functional. She underlines that women’s applications to the center should be facilitated and that the center should assume a more efficient role in the implementation of decisions.
Young lawyers do internships for very low wages in what has become an exploitation of labor, she says, adding that this is not in the nature of their profession. “Most of the young become frustrated to the point of not willing to continue their profession at the end of their internship. The bar has very important resources; these resources should be used for the needs of the profession,” she says.
Just making statements is not enough
Actually the bar can do so many things...
They can work for the rectification of the wrong decisions issued by the judiciary about violence and discrimination against women, prepare counter proposals to eliminate masculinity in the judiciary and call upon parliament to take an active stance on the matter.
They can work with women’s organizations for legal reforms prioritizing positive discrimination.
Without even saying, “What can we do about it?” the bar can get to the bottom of the crime of violence against women which is so widespread, even as courts reduce sentences for offenders.
They cannot just content themselves by limiting their stance by making a simple statement.
Ballıkaya says she will use the bar’s influence to solve important social issues. She emphasizes murders in the workplace, which has become widespread in Turkey, especially on construction sites.
Ballıkaya is a candidate to head the bar at a time when Turkey is going through one of its most difficult periods.
She has this to say about her candidacy: “We are bound with our duty especially during these times. The duty of a lawyer is to fight against lawlessness, to defend justice when lawlessness and violations of human rights reach a peak.”