Government agency reveals millions of women have been victims of violence in Turkey in the last decade

A violence prevention and monitoring center in Turkey has reported staggering numbers of gender-based violence cases in the last decade, the Birgün daily reported

Violence prevention and monitoring center ŞÖNİM, which was established by the Ministry of Family and Social Services to combat gender-based violence, documented 1,360,027 gender-based violence cases between 2013 and 2023. According to ŞÖNİM data, 15 women are victims of violence every hour. 

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi said the numbers were very concerning. “These numbers indicate just how big the problem of gender-based violence is,” said İlgezdi. “Fifteen women being victim to violence every hour is a huge tragedy, and unfortunately, government policies are for the most part responsible for this tragedy.”

Femicides and violence against women are chronic problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten almost every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.

Women’s rights activists in Turkey have repeatedly blamed the Turkish government for the high number of violence and femicide cases. 

They have said that the government has continuously been promoting patriarchal values. Furthermore, the judiciary, which is under government control, has been influenced by government propaganda. Moreover, judges and prosecutors do not have the necessary training to fully understand gender-based violence and abuse and take the issue very lightly.

Turkish courts have repeatedly drawn criticism due to their tendency to hand down lenient sentences to offenders, claiming that the crime was “motivated by passion” or by interpreting victims’ silence as consent.

In a move that attracted national and international outrage, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan through a presidential decree pulled the country out of an international treaty in March 2021 that requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to the signature of Council of Europe member countries in 2011.

Since Turkey’s withdrawal from the treaty, Turkish authorities have been pressuring women’s rights organizations for their activist work. Furthermore, conservative political allies of the ruling AKP have called for the abolition of Law No. 6284, a domestic provision that provides protection mechanisms for women and children who have suffered or are deemed at risk of suffering domestic violence.

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