Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Is the European court’s decision discreditable?

According to 2009 data, the number of women in Turkey subjected to violence by their husbands stands at approximately 40 percent. What Turkey’s leaders do not understand is that the state is not taking adequate measures to protect women, and laws are not implemented properly, so there are many loopholes in them.

The European Court of Human Rights has found Turkey guilty of failing to protect its citizens against domestic violence.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and former State Minister for Women Güldal Akşit, the chairwoman of the Gender Equality Commission in Parliament, have fiercely reacted against the decision.

During an interview, Erdoğan said the European court’s decision was discreditable, adding, "Similar things happen in their countries too." As for Akşit, she said, in part: "Many studies were conducted after 2002 and education sessions were held.

To look at one particular incident and then sentence Turkey is unfair to Turkey. The ruling should be corrected."When Erdoğan said, "similar things happen in their countries," he was right, but that is not the point.

Likewise, it is accurate that many studies were conducted and laws to strengthen women’s rights were passed after 2002, as Akşit said. But, again, that is not the point eitherÉ All right, then, what is it that Erdoğan and Akşit are having a hard time understanding?Turkey signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1986 after a long fight by women’s organizations in the country.

In 1988, Turkey passed a law on the "Protection of the Family." Still, the country has made very little progress in preventing violence against women.

Numbers speak for themselves
Daily newspapers are filled with stories of women beaten by their husbands or other family members. Women in Turkey are still exposed to torture and then killed.

The most horrific recent story was the one about a 19-year-old girl who was kidnapped by three family members and beaten to death after she resisted rape.

News reports provide evidence and so do the numbers.

According to 2009 data from the Prime Ministry’s Women’s Institute General Directorate, the number of women subjected to violence by their husbands stands at approximately 40 percent.

Since many abused women do not speak up, we do not know how accurate this figure is. When looking at uneducated women, the number jumps to 56 percent.

So, what Erdoğan and Akşit do not understand is this: The state is not taking adequate measures to protect women, and laws are not implemented properly, so there are many loopholes in them.

Women’s organizations have already announced that they find the European court’s ruling positive.

Organizations from the Turkish Penal Code’s Women’s Platform released a statement two days ago to stress the scarcity of women’s shelters and the lack of preventive measures to protect women against violence.

Not enough women’s shelters
The number of women’s shelters in Turkey is less than in the West and the state even wants to close down existing shelters. In recent months, the Beyoğlu District Governorship attempted to close a facility run by the Purple Roof Shelter for Women Foundation. I have personally witnessed how crucially important women’s shelters are for female victims of violence:

While I was in a meeting with Kadıköy Mayor Selami Öztürk, who allowed the construction of two women’s shelters years ago, a young woman from the city of Van called.

She had left her home because of violence in the family and because of her husband’s second wife. But her husband tracked her down in Istanbul. Her couldn’t find her home address, but he learned where she worked and showed up there one day. As soon as the horrified woman called the deputy mayor, she was taken under protection.

I witnessed this. It is unavoidable for local administrations not to be involved in this matter. The report titled "Women’s Rights in Turkey," prepared by Dutch Member of the European Parliament Emine Bozkurt, focuses on the shelter issue more precisely.

Both Erdoğan and Akşit must get on board with the European court’s decision instead of reacting against it.