Turkey ratifies landmark accord to protect women

Turkey ratifies landmark accord to protect women

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires
Turkey ratifies landmark accord to protect women

CHP’s Bursa Deputy Sena Kaleli left a black ribbon in Parliemanet on Friday to protest murders targeting women. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Parliament has ratified a landmark Council of Europe convention on the prevention of violence against women, making Turkey the first country to formally adopt the accord amid an alarming increase in the number of women falling victim to abuse and murders.

A society’s treatment of women demonstrates the level of its democracy, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said Nov. 24 as he was signing a declaration at the launch of the awareness-raising campaign “Count Me In,” which is being organized by the Family and Social Policies Ministry. Many lawmakers followed suit in signing the declaration, which was first signed first by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this week.

“If indicators are not going well despite improvements in the law, then we have to reconsider our policies from scratch,” Çiçek said. “The laws are certainly important in reversing negative trends, but it is obvious that inadequate education is at the core of the problem.”

Opposition parties have accused the government of failing to promote gender equality and not doing enough to prevent violence.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a motion for a parliamentary inquiry into the reasons for a multi-fold increase in the number of women falling victim to violence. Citing Justice Ministry figures, the motion said 806 women were killed in 2008 compared to 83 in 2003 and 103 in the first half of 2011.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Zuhal Topçu of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) called for the introduction of “social gender awareness” classes in schools.

The convention ratified by Parliament, which seeks to prevent and combat violence against women, was opened to signing in May in Istanbul. Turkey was the first to ratify the treaty, which needs the ratification of at least nine other states to take effect.


The convention obliges signatories to take legislative or other measures to ensure that acts such as domestic violence, violence in public places, sexual harassment, forced marriage, “honor” crimes, rape and genital mutilation are criminalized. It also calls on member states to include the topics of gender equality, combating violence against women and mutual respect in their educational curriculums. The convention defines “domestic violence” as all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within a family or domestic unit or between partners.