Concluding Declaration of the 11th Assembly on Women’s Shelters and Solidarity Centres
To the press and the public
As independent women’s groups who run shelters and solidarity centres to combat violence against women, councils, social workers, university representatives from related departments, and feminist women, we came together in Van between October 11-13, 2008. Around 130 women were in attendance at the 11th Assembly on Women’s Shelters and Solidarity Centres. As participants of the assembly, we will be monitoring the following topics, which we have discussed in depth during workshops, as part of our fight on violence against women:
- Our laws still do not include the necessary deterrents so that female murders can be stopped. The “unfair provocation” regulation, still a part of the Turkish Penal Code, is used in many trials to give legitimacy to the perpetrator of the murder. In such cases, claims that the woman was “wearing white leggings”, “asking for the time in a suggestive manner”, “bathing herself often” can be cited as unfair provocation by the masculine judicial system and perpetrators are protected and almost rewarded by the state. The “unfair provocation” regulation must be revised so that it cannot be used in female murders.
- Directorate General of Status of Women does not cooperate with women’s organisations in a satisfactory manner. The National Action Plan published in 2007 as part of the Project to Fight Domestic Violence Against Women, which is ran by the Directorate General of Status of Women with support from the EU contains significant gaps and problems. The Plan states that it was designed with cooperation from women's organisations and that its implementation will also involve women’s organisations, however, many demands by women’s organisations are left out of the Plan, and important problems are postponed into the long term. As the National Action Plan proves, the state is far from allocating the necessary funding and coming up with wisest solutions to the problem of violence against women.
- Present neoliberal economic policies weaken the social state and lead to an increase in poverty and unemployment, and the women suffer the worst of its consequences:
- The Social Security and Universal Health Insurance Law (SSGSS) which came into effect in October as part of aforementioned neoliberal policies, makes women more dependent than ever on men. The SSGSS should be revised from a feminist perspective.
- There should be a female quota in employment, starting with public institutions. Particularly for women staying in shelters and trying to build a new life away from violence, this quota would be of vital importance.
- The funds allocated to global conflicts and war should instead be spent on education and health, as well as the empowerment of women and the eradication of violence against women.
- Shelter and counselling services are not adequate in our country, and since they are of extreme importance in the struggle against violence against women, they should be increased in number as soon as possible, and existing and new shelters and centres should be regulated with feminist analysis in mind. The realities of Turkish society and the area of the shelter should be kept in mind and women should be offered services in their mother tongue. Languages such as Kurdish, English, and Arabic should be prioritised.
- The necessary precautions to prevent incest are still not taken. Incest, still regarded as a taboo, should be made visible, and should be included in the national database on sexual abuse and sexual violence. Our counselling and solidarity centres encounter many cases of incest, and there is a need for raising awareness on the subject.
- Public institutions are reluctant and inadequate when it comes to cooperating with women’s organisations to combat violence. All public institutions responsible to prevent violence against women should be open to cooperation with independent women’s organisations and the criticism and suggestions they might receive.
As women, we will continue to work, defend our demands, and monitor the necessary laws and regulations on these matters as a priority.
Long live women’s solidarity!