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THE CRY FOR WOMEN’S LEGAL RIGHTS IN TURKEY


July 2021

As thousands of women in Turkey prepare to protest the country’s formal exit on July 1 from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to prevent violence against women, Gülsüm I., Deputy Executive Director of SAT-7 TÜRK, shares how the channel supports women to know their legal rights to protection from domestic abuse.

“Please pray for women in Turkey at this time,” says Gülsüm I. “The rise in domestic abuse cases and femicides is an issue that we feel very strongly about as a channel.”

In 2020, 300 women were murdered by partners, ex-partners, or male relatives. By April 2021, the deaths of 95 women had been identified as femicides, and an additional 59 women were found dead under suspicious circumstances1. Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is a blow to efforts to ensure women’s legal protections from domestic violence are enforced.

“The encouraging thing is that there are many women and men in Turkey who know that domestic abuse and femicide are wrong and unacceptable, and they are speaking out against it,” Gülsüm shares. “Organisations such as ‘We Will Stop Femicides’ are constantly advocating for change, and at SAT-7 TÜRK we have a social responsibility to continue raising awareness and keeping these issues on the public agenda,” Gülsüm adds.

The SAT-7 TÜRK program You Are Not Alone invites lawyers, psychologists and sociologists, amongst others, as guests and provides viewers with practical information to support victims of domestic violence. This includes sharing contact details for organisations that can help, information about women’s legal rights to protection, and practical steps women should take if they are abused, such as recording their injuries for use as evidence in court cases.

“We felt that such a program was necessary because many women do not know where to go or what to do,” shares Gülsüm. “In some instances, such as cases of psychological and emotional abuse, women are not even aware that they are being abused. It is vital that they have access to this basic information because it saves lives,” she continues. “We want women to know that they are not alone in this.”

Unfortunately, part of the battle is cultural. “There are Turkish proverbs such as ‘Dayak cennetten gelir’, meaning ‘A beating comes from heaven’, or ‘Kari koca arasina girilmez’, meaning ‘One does not come between man and wife,’” explains Gülsüm. “These are embedded in our culture, and this is not acceptable. Through our women’s programs like Homemade, You are Not Alone, and Self Defence, we hope to change this way of thinking and promote equality between man and woman in all aspects of life.” As women and men become aware of women’s rights and cultural or social barriers that can hinder the realisation of these rights, they can work together to further the development of women’s rights in Turkey.

Please pray for protection for those at risk of gender-based violence, that their legal right to live in safety will be upheld, and that SAT-7 TÜRK’s efforts to raise awareness will be heard by those who need to hear it most.