ANKARA — Rates of domestic violence in Turkey have increased in the past few years. Bound economically to their husbands, married women suffer from domestic abuse in the home. But more and more women are taking it upon themselves to speak out and take action against domestic abuse in Turkey.
Married women are victims of a high rate of domestic violence, with 40 percent of married women being beaten by their husbands. In 2014 alone 118,000 women were assaulted, and that is only self-reported assault. The number of women killed by their husbands has also increased. In 2014, 160 women were killed by their husbands, while in 2015, 286 were killed. Despite these numbers, most women stay with their husbands; the divorce rate is 20 percent.
Domestic violence in Turkey is rooted in the nation’s culture. The government remains dominated by men. In 2014, only 14 percent of parliamentary seats were held by women. With such little representation, women aren’t able to make progressive laws to help the greater population and are left to fend for themselves.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Fatma Aytac, a founding member of Kadin Partisi (Women’s Party) said, “The problem is in the application, the interpretation of law.” She added that police and courts view men as the head of the family and take their word over their wives’. “Police come from this culture. Everyone comes from this culture.”
Money also plays a part in why women remain in violent domestic relationships. Less than one-third of women in Turkey earn any type of income, and of those who do make money, few hold positions of power and can affect change.
In recent years, more and more people have decided to speak out and take action against the severe domestic violence in Turkey. In June of 2014, seven women and two men created Kadin Partisi in order to give women a voice, through participation in government. The party’s focus is to aid women who are beaten, fight discrimination and change the underrepresentation of women in government.
In May of 2015, Turkish NGO Sefkat-Der began giving women free self-defense classes, focusing on shooting and martial arts. While gun ownership is not easy in Turkey, shooting classes help women feel empowered. Turkan Uruk, who participated in the free classes and enthusiastically shares pictures of herself holding a gun on social media, told aljazeera.com that “It gives us a feeling of strength and security, but most importantly it creates a perception [of strength].”
The importance of taking a stance remains as urgent as ever Turkish women. Speaking up is only the first step of many that need to follow in reducing domestic violence in Turkey.
– Maria Rodriguez