Incidents of violence against women have finally caught the attention of President Abdullah Gul of Turkey. As reported numbers increase, President Gul has called for an extensive investigation of the problem. According to government reports, 115 women were killed by a spouse or male relative in the first five months of 2011. This is quite an increase as the total number of reported murders for 2010was 217.
The Presidency’s press office announced today that Gul had appointed the State Audit Board (DDK) to extensively investigate cases of violence against women. The statement said the DDK had been ordered to investigate all aspects of the situation, “including the quality of legal, administrative, and other services regarding the issue and the efficiency of such services.”
Fatma Sahin, the director of the newly formed Family and Social Policies Ministry, also announced that offenders who are under a restraining order would be monitored using electronic cuffs. Sahin said she started working on domestic violence cases as soon as she was appointed and that the ministry was specifically working on previous cases in which women were killed by their husbands and why the state failed to prevent the deaths.
The cases being analyzed by the ministry include the murder of Ayse Pasali, who was killed by her ex-husband in the middle of the street in December 2010. Pasali had asked for state protection because she had been beaten and raped by her husband, but the court failed to make a ruling before she was killed.
“We are strengthening law enforcement regarding cases of violence against women,” Sahin said. “We are going to provide more authority to family courts. We will also set up an electronic follow-up system for men who are forbidden from seeing their wives. Such systems are used in many European countries.”
Sahin, who is known for her work on the subject as the head of the ruling party’s women’s branch, also led Parliament’s Honor Killings Research Committee and its Equality of Opportunity for Men and Women Committee.
“We are very glad to hear the news,” said Vildan Yirmibesoglu, director of the Istanbul Governorship’s Human Rights Board. “A follow-up system is very important. Yet the state should also look into providing coordination between the police, prosecutors, and the court.”
Yirmibesoglu, who also works as the general secretary of a women’s solidarity initiative, said there were gaps in the current laws that prevented such coordination.
“In one of our cases the court prevented a man from seeing his wife. Yet he found her and threatened to kill her, so she called the police. Although the man repeated his threat in front of the police, he was not arrested because he didn’t have a court decision. That’s why coordination is very important,” Yirmibesoglu said.
Women’s rights activist Nazli Gurhan said that although the government had set up women’s shelters, many of their locations were known to the public. “There are a lot of women who are afraid to stay in these houses because their relatives or husbands are waiting at the front door,” Gurhan said.
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