The Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) published its baseline evaluation report on Turkey. GREVIO is the monitoring body for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention (Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence). The evaluation process regarding Turkey’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention started at the beginning of 2017 and the evaluation report was published on 15 October 2018. The process involved submission of the State Party report, a state dialogue with the representatives of the party, an evaluation visit to the party to meet with governmental and non-governmental representatives working in the field, comments by the State Party on GREVIO’s draft report and publication of the report.
In its first report on Turkey, GREVIO welcomes the positive steps taken by the authorities in Turkey. However, it also highlights concerns about the gaps in legislation, policies and measures to eradicate violence against women. In that regard, GREVIO put forward suggestions to improve the implementation of the Convention. According to the convention, national parliaments shall receive an evaluation report from the national authorities (Article 70, paragraph 2). GREVIO calls the national authorities to translate the evaluation report into their official national language and to ensure that it is widely disseminated.
GREVIO underlines a number of factors that undermine the efforts of authorities to prevent violence against women. According to the report, one of the factors is the lack of a systematic and thorough assessment of the policies in terms of their impact on equality between men and women and violence against women. Another factor is the tendency to emphasize women’s traditional roles as mothers and caregivers that results in the lack of challenge of the discriminatory stereotypes concerning the roles and responsibilities of women and men in family and society.
Although GREVIO expresses that it welcomes the authorities’ extensive efforts towards improving data collection, experts also underline the unavailability of judicial data on the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of perpetrators of criminal offences that result in the lack of monitoring the implementation of the laws. GREVIO is also concerned about discretionary mitigation in court cases of violence against women as possibly mirroring sexist prejudice and victim blaming.
GREVIO experts recognize progress with regard to measures to protect women from violence but point out that impunity is a persistent concern. More effort is required to ensure Turkey’s response to violence against women for prevention, protection, prosecution and integrated policies (namely, “four Ps” of the Convention).
GREVIO addresses the underreporting of gender-based violence against women. Victims refrain from reporting violence cases because of stigmatisation, fear of reprisals, economic dependence on the perpetrator, legal illiteracy, language barriers and/or lack of trust in the law-enforcement authorities. Experts underline that rape and other forms of sexual violence are “hardly ever reported by victims”.
The report mentions that more than 25% of women in Turkey are reported as having been married before the age of 18 and that percentage rises to 32% in rural areas. Hence, experts highlight underage and forced marriages as a problem that has to be addressed. GREVIO is also concerned about the prevalence of the psychological violence against women in Turkey. GREVIO also highlights that stalking is not defined as a separate offence under Turkish criminal law although the recently available data indicate 27% of women in Turkey have been subjected to stalking at least once in their lives.
Finally, GREVIO is also alarmed over the increasingly restrictive conditions experienced by civil society organisations, in particular, independent women’s organisations who have advocated the Istanbul Convention and its principles.
Source: Council of Europe