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Human Rights Committee - Gender-based Violence - Feb. 2012

Date: February 1, 2012
Country: Turkey
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Gender-Based Violence, International Advocacy, Women's Rights
Mechanism: UN Human Rights Committee
Report Type: List of Issues
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In February 2012, The Advocates for Human Rights submitted suggested issues and questions on Turkey’s domestic violence laws to the County Report Task Force on Turkey of the UN Human Rights Committee, in anticipation of the Committee’s review of Turkey’s compliance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights later this year.

The Advocates, in partnership with the American Bar Association’s office in Istanbul and with the Law School of Bahçesehir University, developed and taught a curriculum for lawyers in Turkey on the effective and sensitive representation of domestic violence clients. In preparation for the curriculum, The Advocates interviewed lawyers, judges, shelter advocates, psychologists, and others who serve domestic violence clients in Turkey. The Advocates used the expertise it gained from this experience to develop its recommendations for the Committee’s Turkey Task Force. The submission focuses on Turkey’s order for protection law and on victim-oriented remedies for gender-based violence that arises out of current or former intimate relationships between the abuser and the victim.

The submission draws attention to the fact that Turkey lacks a comprehensive national law on violence against women. Law No. 4320 on the Protection of the Family does not recognize gender-based violence that arises in relationships outside of civil marriage, including dating, cohabitation without marriage, religious marriage, separation, and divorce. Intake procedures for victims who report abuse are flawed, with police often encouraging battered women to reconcile with their abusers. Prosecutors and courts impose unwarranted evidentiary and notice requirements on women seeking protective orders, causing unnecessary delay in their issuance and placing women at heightened risk. Turkey has few or no available services to help victims escape their abusive situations and live independently, such as job training and subsidized or transitional housing. Many municipalities lack shelters for women completely or have inadequate shelter services. Turkey does not have a comprehensive system of data collection and statistics on violence against women, including on domestic violence and honour killings. The absence of accurate record keeping further endangers women and keeps police officers from being held accountable for failing to take action when they receive reports of domestic violence. This submission presents questions urging Turkey to change its policies so that victims of domestic violence are properly protected.