Turkish Women Desperately Need Access to Women's Shelters

May 16, 2011

Turkish women shout slogans to denounce honour crimes and violence against women in the country. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Congratulations to Turkey for becoming the first country to sign a tough new European Convention to combat violence against women.  Now, it is time for the Turkish government to get serious about protecting its own female citizens from honor killings and spousal abuse.

The murder of women continues to increase dramatically in Turkey–since last October, there have been more than 264 cases reported in the Turkish press–but the number of secure women’s shelters where women under threat can take refuge remains woefully inadequate.

The Turkish government recommended in 2005 that municipalities with more than 50,000 people have women’s shelters.  Given its population of 75 million, this means there should be 1,400 women’s shelters in Turkey.  There are 65, and not all are up to European standards.

When Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, signed the European Convention to Prevent and Combat Violence Against Women on May 11, he said “Turkey is ready to do all [necessary] work to stop violence against women.”  Let’s hope that pledge includes funding an adequate number of shelters where women can seek refuge from violence and death threats.