Country of Origin Information Report

Employment and Gender Equality


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Employment and Gender Equality
22.22 The CEDAW 32nd Session, January 2005 based on the Shadow Report for Turkey prepared by Women for Women’s Human Rights - New Ways, endorsed by the Turkish Penal Code Women’s Platform, noted that:
“Currently, women’s labor force participation rate in Turkey is approximately 26%, which is the lowest rate amongst the OECD countries; and 49% of employed women are actually unpaid family workers. The urban female labor force participation rate, which is a more accurate indicator of female employment, is only 17%. Currently there is no coordinated plan of action by the Government to redress the gross gender inequality in the economic arena.” [95a]
22.23 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 november 2007 mentions that “Even though economic growth has been strong, few new jobs have been created, as employment grew by only 1.3% in 2006. The employment rate hovered around 44-45% in 2006-2007. In particular, the female employment rate remained low at 22-23%.” [71c] (p27)

22.24 The EC 2007 Progress report stated that “In general, ’women’s participation in the labour market remains low, although women occupy some high-profile positions. ’Women’s participation in national and local elected bodies remains limited… The legal framework guaranteeing gender equality is in place. However, further efforts are needed to translate it into social reality. The gap between men and women in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment remains significant. (p18) Labour force participation rates are low, particularly for women and older people, and increased only marginally in 2006 and 2007.” [71c] (p30)

22.25 The Freedom House 2007 Countries at the Crossroads report published 25 September 2007 noted that:
“Women are also discriminated against in certain professions. Only about 28 percent of women participate in the formal workforce, and just 7 percent outside agriculture. Although women have had the right to vote and run for office since 1934, only 4 percent of parliamentarians are female. Education rates for girls are generally high, but in some rural provinces more than 50 percent of girls between the ages of 6 and 14 are out of school. The World Economic Forum ranked Turkey 105th out of 115 countries surveyed in terms of its gender gap.” [62c]
22.26 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “Women continued to face discrimination in employment to varying degrees and were generally underrepresented in managerial-level positions as well as in government. Women generally received equal pay for equal work in professional, business, and civil service positions, although a large percentage of women employed in agriculture and in the retail, restaurant, and hotel sectors worked as unpaid family labor.” [5g] (Section 5)

22.27 The EC 2007 Progress report also added that “As regards anti-discrimination and equal opportunities, limited progress was achieved and further alignment is required. A circular was issued by the Turkish Employment Agency banning gender-based discrimination in job matching services. Male nurses are now allowed. The administrative capacity of the Directorate-General for the Status of Women was strengthened. Low participation of women in the labour market and access to education remain points of concern.” [71c] (54)

22.28 The Freedom House 2007 Freedom in the World report published 2 July 2008 stated that the amended constitution provides women full equality before the law, but they face discrimination in employment and are under-represented in government. [62a]
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22.29 The Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information, accessed 24 August 2008 recorded that the legal age for marriage has been raised for both men and women (Article 124). However, under extreme situations and with sufficient cause, both men and women who are over the age of 16 can be married with the permission of the judge. [36f]
22.30 Human Rights Council: Addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Mission to Turkey, 5 January 2007 noted that:

“The 1998 Law on the Protection of the Family grants abused spouses or other family members living with the perpetrator the right to go to court to apply for a protective order... In granting the protective order, the court can require that the perpetrator leave the family home for a period of up to six months or impose other protective measures. Failure to abide by a protective order can result in imprisonment of up to six months... In practice, the law has not lived up to the high expectations and seems to be rarely used. In Batman, for instance, there were only 20 applications for a protective order in all of 2005. The lawyers I spoke with explained that the courts regularly fail to enforce such orders... Therefore, lawyers often advise their female clients to file for divorce and find a new home rather than seek an ineffective protective order and further aggravate the conflict with the perpetrator.” [20d]

22.31 In the United Nations Development Programme report on Youth of Turkey 2008 it was noted that “Although the law prohibits children from marrying, families — particularly those in remote rural areas — have sufficient leeway to give their adolescent daughters in marriage, owing to inadequate birth registration procedures. Furthermore many rural communities consider an ‘imam nikah’ or religious ceremony sufficient to formalise a union. As a result many marriages remain officially unregistered and essentially invisible to the State.” [35b]

Forced Marriages
22.32 The Amnesty International (AI) report ‘Turkey: Women confronting family’ noted in June 2004 that “Forced marriage, in contrast to arranged marriage, has been described as any marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties and may involve coercion, mental abuse, emotional blackmail, and intense family or social pressure. In the most extreme cases, it may also involve physical violence, abuse, abduction, detention, and murder of the individual concerned.” [12i]
22.33 The same AI 2004 report also adds that “Forced marriage violates a woman’s right to choose her partner, a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Women’s Convention, to both of which Turkey is a state party.” [12i]

22.34 As noted in a Country of Origin Research Documents of the Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa, dated 28 September 2004 entitled ‘Turkey: Forced marriage in Turkey; outcome when a woman refuses to marry the designated man; outcome when a woman elopes with another man; attitude of state and availability of state protection (July 2001 -September 2004)’:

“Young girls living in rural areas, specifically in eastern Anatolia, face difficulties, in trying to oppose forced marriage since under tribal custom they are considered the property of either their father before marriage or by their husband afterwards and if they resist social pressure from the community, ‘they do so at their peril’. Similarly, according to one of the leaders of WWHR, rural women are likely to be marginalized in the context of changes induced by the new Civil Code, including the raising of the legal age for marriage to 18, as they ‘must contend with traditions and customs, [including underage marriage] that have little to do with the legislative revisions their urban sisters enjoy’.” [7a]
22.35 The European Commission 2006 Progress report published 6 November 2007 mentioned that “According to the preliminary results of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, causes of suicides are early and forced marriages, domestic violence and denial of reproductive rights… In parts of the South East it still occurs that girls are not registered at birth. This hampers the fight against forced marriage and crimes in the name of honour since these girls and women cannot be properly traced.” [71a]
Violence against women
22.37 The EC 2007 Progress report on Turkey stated that:

“The Turkish authorities have issued circulars to governorates, judges and prosecutors, with the aim of improving services to victims of violence. Implementation of the prime ministerial circular to combat honour killings and domestic violence against women is underway, under the coordination of the Directorate-General for the Status of Women. Cooperation between public institutions and civil society has improved and regular meetings are held with public institutions and ’women’s NGOs to monitor the implementation of the circular.” [71c] (p18)

22.38 The EC 2007 progress report further noted that “With regard to gender equality and ’women’s rights, and, in particular, domestic violence, amendments to the Law on the Protection of the Family adopted in April have included into the scope of the law spouses living under separate roof and the workplace; also, they have introduced medical consultation or treatment in a health institution as a new measure that can be enforced by courts on violent family members.” [71c] (p62)
22.39 The Freedom House 2007 Countries at the Crossroads published 25 September 2007 recorded that “Although the legal framework is strong, women still face discriminatory practices. NGOs and the Ministry for Women and Families report that about a third of women in Turkey are victims of violence.” [62c]
22.41 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “the law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, language, or social status; however, problems in implementation of these laws existed… The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape; however, the government did not effectively enforce the law.” [5g] (Section 5)

22.40 The Freedom House 2007 Freedom in the World report published 2 July 2008 stated that “Domestic abuse and so-called honor crimes continue to occur; a 2007 study from the Turkish Sabanci University found that one in three women in the country was a victim of violence. The 2004 penal code revisions include increased penalties for crimes against women and the elimination of sentence reductions in cases of honor killing and rape.” [62a]

22.41 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey (UKBA FFM) 11 – 20 February 2008, interviewed a number of sources on the issue of violence against women. The Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHCEK) said that most cases of domestic violence in Turkey involved women who suffered violence from their husbands. SHCEK advised that, in Turkish society, men were seen as the dominant power and the use of violence against their wives was culturally condoned. [59] (S11.4)

22.42 The EU Commission Delegation to Turkey (which represents the European Commission on the diplomatic and political level) advised that domestic violence was more common in the South Eastern region, but was a problem throughout the whole country. In this region, there was less access for women to education, judicial and social services. The EU delegation also cited the example of the city of Urfa, where women were particularly vulnerable to domestic violence as a result of strong tribal bonds and a lack of shelters. [59] (S19.2)

22.43 In 2006, Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHCEK) informed the UKBA FFM that it had conducted a study into which regions applications for assistance from female victims of domestic violence were coming from. SHCEK said that, in descending order, the highest number of applications came from the Mediterranean region, the Aegean region, Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Marmara region. All these regions had similar numbers of cases. However, in analysing the figures further, SHCEK found that 67% of applications were from women living in major cities, 28% from women outside of major cities and 5% from women living in villages. [59] (S11.9)

22.44 In the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report ‘violence against women, its causes and consequences’, by Yakin Erturk, dated May 2006, it was noted that “The situation of women in the eastern regions is particularly worrisome. Their limited access to education, employment, information, health services and justice are major constraints on their citizenship rights, their ability to negotiate the terms of their existence and to obtain redress for their problems.” [20d]
22.45 The FCO have provided information from an article on domestic violence which appeared in the Turkish newspaper, The Milliyet on 8 June 2007. The newspaper quoted the Directorate-General of Policing crime statistics for 2005 and 2006 as showing that, in this two-year period, there were 333,237 crimes committed which had elements of violence against women. A Turkish woman suffered from violent crime once every 3 minutes, on average, during those two years; 1,985 women lost their lives and 56,445 women were injured in these occurrences. [59]
22.46 In the same article it was recorded:

“Occurrences increased in one year

“In 2005 there were 46,612 instances of beatings, climbing to 71,564 in 2006. 36, 72 women were the victims of beatings.

“In 2005 the number of instances of mistreatment of family members was 9, 901 and in 2006 17, 64. The total number of victims in 2005 and 2006 was 23, 683.

“The number of instances of threat was 10,809 in 2005, rising to 28, 88 in 2006. The total number of women who were victims was 13,186 in total.

“Whilst the number of women suffering from violence as 5,257 in 2005, it rose to 9,317 in 2006.

“Moreover, whist 8,773 women were injured in 30,621 suicide attempts, 858 women lost their lives in 3,266 occurrences of suicide.” [59] (Information provided by the FCO, 29 May 2008)

22.47 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted “’Women’s NGOs reported that more than 150,000 women were victims of domestic violence between 2001 and 2005…more women called the police emergency hotline to report domestic violence and went to police stations to file abuse reports. On October 15, the Istanbul governor and the Foundation to Support Contemporary Life, backed by EU funds, launched a domestic violence hot line staffed by operators who screen calls and then forward legitimate calls to police, attorneys, or psychologists. In the first ten days of the program, approximately 150 calls were received.” [5g] (Section 5)
22.48 A Turkish Daily News article dated 28 February 2007 stated that:
“Violence against women in Turkey has come out from behind closed doors and is now squarely in the public arena…The campaign started in an effort to raise public awareness of domestic violence against women, an issue that thrives universally in silence and shame. Since then, the director of corporate communications at Hürriyet, and of the Stop Violence against Women Campaign, Temuçin Tüzecan said the project has really taken a life of its own.” [23e]

22.49 Mr Tuzecan, Director of the Stop Violence against Women campaign, informed the UKBA FFM that The Hurriyet ran a 24 hour telephone hotline (02126569696) for female victims of human rights violations. [59] (S2.7) Working in cooperation with the state authorities and part funded by the EU, the hotline was staffed by seven full time psychologists and two full time lawyers. Mr Tuzecan explained that anybody with access to a phone in Turkey or abroad could obtain guidance from the Hurriyet hotline, which had been up and running for 3 months and had taken 6,000 calls to date. [59] (S2.8)

22.50 Several helpline services available to women were mentioned by the sources interviewed by the UKBA FFM. SHCEK’s telephone hotline ‘Call 183’, noted above, provided support and guidance to women on issues of domestic violence/abuse. Those reporting abuses could be reached immediately as call offices were available across Turkey. If necessary, SHCEK (in cooperation with the Turkish National Police) could remove people from violent home environments. Other hotlines were also available to women throughout Turkey providing support and guidance, such as the Turkish National Police Helpline ‘call 155’, the Gendarmerie helpline ‘call 156’ and a line run by IOM ‘call 157’ to deal with cases of human trafficking. [59] (S11.18)
22.51 Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) advised that despite Turkey being a large country physically with limited financial resources, positive developments were being taken forward in the area of women’s human rights and will continue. A legislative framework was in place but the implementation was slow. Also, organizations representing women’s interests had extended to parts of the country where they did not used to be. [59] (S1.16)
22.52 The International Helsinki Federation Annual Report on Human Rights Violations (2006): Turkey, 8 June 2006 noted that:

“Derya Orman, Gülselin Orman and Seyhan Geylani Sondas were arrested by the police in Istanbul in April because one of them did not have an identity card with her. They stated that the police requested them ‘sexual favors’ in the station in order to release them. They reported that they were stripped naked, sexually harassed and forced to sexual intercourse by the officers on duty, including a policewoman. HRA officials reported that the applicants were mistreated by the prosecutor when they went to his office to file complaints against the police officers.” [10a] (p441)

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Honour killings
22.53 In a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 23 June 2008 it was noted that “An honor killing is generally a murder committed by male family members against female members who has brought ‘dishonor’ to the family, including seeking a divorce or allegedly committing adultery.” [4s]
22.54 The report of the Special Rapporteur ‘violence against women, its causes and consequences’ by Yakin Erturk, dated May 2006, stated “Honour (namus) is an important value in Turkish society; it serves to reproduce the rigid control exercised over women and their sexuality… Accordingly, the family must ensure that the code of honor is observed by its members as transgressions (or mere rumors of such transgressions) are seen as ‘stains’ on the entire family. These stains may have to be cleansed at any cost, if necessary through murder.” [20d] (Summary p2)

22.55 The same Special Rapporteur report also adds that “What distinguishes honour-related killings from other forms of violence against women is the way they are organized and executed. A family council, which may also include members of the extended kin, decides upon and organizes the murder. A young man or boy is often assigned to commit the crime because it is hoped that the young offender will receive a more lenient sentence. Such murders are often presented as acts of retribution against a woman who supposedly committed an act of grave immorality. However, the demonstrative manner in which they are carried out reveals that they serve mainly to terrorize women as a group in order to uphold patriarchal privilege.” [20d] (p10)

22.56 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 November 2007 maintained that domestic violence against women continues to be widespread. Honour killings, early and forced marriages continue to occur. Moreover, access to reliable data on the incidence of violence against women and of honour killings continues to be a problem. More shelters for victims of domestic violence are needed to meet the demand, and services should be improved. Training for law enforcement bodies, judges and prosecutors should be stepped up. [71c] (p18)
22.57 The EC 2007 report further added that in January 2007 the Ministry of Justice issued a Circular to public prosecutors regarding cases of custom and honour killings, asking for judicial proceedings of victims to be dealt with rapidly, confidentially and in a humane manner. [71c] (p62)
22.58 Interviewed by the the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey (UKBA FFM) 11 – 20 February 2008, the Turkish NGO Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways (WWHR) said that honour killings tended to be more prevalent in South East and Eastern areas of Turkey (eg Diyarbakir and Van), particularly in Kurdish ethnic/religious communities. However, WWHR noted that honour killings were not confined to this section of the community/geographical area; the issue also affected women such as those in immigrant communities in Istanbul. WWHR also advised that honour killings were unknown in the Alevis community and certain geographical areas, including provinces in the East such as Tunceli. [59] (S1.9)

22.59 On the issue of reporting incidences of honour killings, WWHR stated that the number of reported honour killings had increased - not because of an increased number of killings but rather an increased willingness to report cases to the authorities. WWHR said that, although still an issue in Turkish society, the number of cases of honour killings did not appear to be on the rise. However, because of increased reporting and the fact that honour killings were often recorded as suicides (ie where girls were forced by their families to kill themselves), it was not possible to be definitive about the level of incidence. [59] (S1.8)

22.60 The report of the Special Rapporteur ‘violence against women, its causes and consequences’ by Yakin Erturk, dated May 2006, noted that, “In the past, courts granted reduced sentences for honour murders considering that the perpetrators had been unjustly provoked by the victim’s ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Article 82 of the Penal Code now stipulates that killings in the name of töre have to be considered as a case of aggravated homicide and the perpetrator(s) must be sentenced to life imprisonment.” [20d]

22.61 The EU Commission Delegation told the UKBA FFM that with the new Turkish Penal Code which entered into force in 2005, honour killings are now dealt with under article 82, as an aggravated ground for homicide. However, because honour killing crimes were not specifically profiled in statistics recorded for crimes committed under Article 82, it was difficult to get a precise picture of just how prevalent the honour killing issue actually was. Also, a particular profile of honour killing was forced suicide which was often dealt with in crime statistics as a suicide, again making statistical analysis on prevalence of honour killings in Turkey difficult. [59] (S19.3)

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