Concluding Declaration of the 13th Assembly on Women’s Shelters and Solidarity Centres
December 17-19, 2010
As women’s organisations fighting against domestic violence against women, we came together for our 13th annual meeting between December 17-19 in Söke this year. The main topic of the 13th Assembly on Women’s Shelters and Solidarity Centres was the fight against female murders. Through productive discussions, we strengthened our solidarity, and decided to continue our work following the decisions we have outlined below.
- Female murders are a systematic form of violence that the patriarchal structure uses to remove women from the public sphere and suppress her, and to continue the domination of men over women’s bodies and labour. The data regarding the matter is insufficient, and does not take female suicides into account. However, female suicides should also be considered female murders. Considering that a significant majority of female murders are committed with firearms, it is clear that the personal use of firearms and operations such as forest guarding where firearms are used without regulation increases the number of female murders and violence against women. Furthermore, the new draft law concerning the right to bear arms plans to make it easier to obtain firearms and to lower the age of firearm usage. These practices must be stopped and withdrawn. The patriarchal system that protects murderers of women and the judiciary, which is one of the institutions that holds this system up, resists stubbornly to put existing laws into practice. In many cases concerning the murder of women by relatives, the sentence is reduced by citing “unfair provocation”, which could also be called “manhood discount”. Women who seek help from the judicial system or law enforcement are not granted the required protection. Law 4320 which states that the perpetrator of violence must be removed from the household should be regulated so that the protection order is granted first and the rest of the process comes later, contrary to its current functioning, and law enforcement should be efficient in the implementation of said law. The law should be revised as soon as possible to include unions apart from marriage.
- Rape is another means of dominance over the female body by means of sexual violence. Women who have been raped are victimised over and over again throughout the process by law enforcement, forensic medicine, and law enforcement. Male violence can also manifest as child rape. The Provincial Social Services Commission in Kocaeli offered a solution to the rape of intellectually disabled women in the form of sterilisation, which proves how ingrained the idea of punishing the victim rather than the offender in rape cases is. The media’s trivialisation of rape should be prevented, and it should be ensured that staffs working in public institutions perform their duties regarding sexual violence crimes promptly. Rape Crisis Centres should begin as pilot schemes first, and these centres should be set up on university campuses or hospitals. Women’s organisations who are leading the struggle on this subject should be consulted.
- It is very important that schemes targeting women should give priority to women’s needs first of all. Approaches that favour the family over women lead to the covering up of violence against women, and the strengthening of the family means more gratuitous household labour by women. For this reason, we condemn the participation of the Minister for Women and Family Policies Kavaf at the Family Conference in Antalya on November 26, and the decisions made therein. The concluding manifesto of said conference eschews the right women hold over their bodies, and includes statements against abortion, divorce, and the use of civil rights; it defines violence not as a violation of human rights and a crime, but a reason for “alienation from the home and the family”; and incest, which is sexual abuse within the family, is described as “familial adultery”. The same manifesto brushes aside the rights of LGBTI individuals to make choices regarding their bodies and their lives under the guise of “protecting the family”. The fact that homosexuality is defined as an illness is nothing but an outward manifestation of homophobia and an attempt to scale back the rights of LGBTI individuals.
- Turning the struggle domestic violence against women into a public policy has not succeeded. The insufficient number of shelters, their inability to provide women and children with alternatives to a life of violence, the lack of social policies to support women once they leave the refuge, and the fact that in-work training regarding domestic violence against women for members of law enforcement and the judiciary still has not become the norm are all proof of this.
The most important thing is that domestic violence against women should not be dealt with through individual projects, and the necessary funding should be set aside to combat it. The coordination of law enforcement, social services, judiciary, and healthcare systems on this matter should be strengthened, and those working on public policies regarding women should be women that have an anti-sexist perspective. Regulation 2006/17 issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, and the accompanying national action plan sets out the duties of public institutions to prevent violence against women, and they should be implemented and granted the required budget.
To this end;
- Social Services and Child Protection Institution where women who have been victims of violence seek support should be redesigned to meet the needs of women and their children, and the amount of staff with a feminist perspective should be increased. They should be renamed as “Women Support Centres”.
- Women Support Units should be established adjacent to local and provincial police stations.
- It should be a prerequisite for staff working in these fields to be knowledgeable about programs targeting women and have an anti-sexist perspective.
- Shelters, counselling centres, healthcare providers, judicial institutions, and law enforcement should be able to provide services in the languages required by locals.
- Law enforcement and other institutions still violate the rights to confidentiality of shelters. International agreements guarantee shelters’ right to confidentiality, and staff should be given training to raise awareness. Such violations risk the safety of women and children and should be prevented. The possibility of confidentiality being violated over the e-state system is also significant. To preserve the privacy of information concerning women and children on the system, ID information should be blanked out and the editing of registry information should be allowed.
- As outlined in the Law Regarding Local Municipalities, municipalities of towns with a population of over 50.000 should open women’s shelters, and those who do not comply should face sanctions. For local authorities with budget issues, supplementary funds should be created so that they can open counselling centres and refuges. Shelters should not be useless, and should have the provisions and perspectives to empower women and children. A separate budget should be created to cater to the needs of women and children wanting to escape violence for when they leave the shelter, and social policies for this should be created.
- Local and national authorities should fulfill their obligations regarding domestic violence against women in cooperation with women’s organisations as set out in the regulation 2006/17 published by the prime minister’s office.
- The state is currently revising its social policies and institutions. These changes include the metamorphosis of Social Services and Child Protection Institution, and it should be improved by including efficient strategies to fight violence against women, and during this process women’s organisations should be kept informed and have the right to interfere. The budget set aside to combat violence against women should be increased both on a national and local level.
As women’s organisations from all around Turkey who have been fighting against domestic violence against women for years and struggling to implement gender equality in every facet of life, we remind officials once again that precautions need to be taken urgently. As female murders increase, male violence threatens the life of women, and child abuse continues, we will not stand silent. We declare that we will stand against all attempts to block our struggle, and to suppress our right to a life of freedom, our rights over our bodies, and our sexuality.
Components and Attendees of the 13th Assembly on Women's Shelters and Solidarity Centres
- Adana Akdam
- Amargi Izmir
- Antalya Women’s Solidarity Association
- Bağlar Municipality Kardelen Women’s Shelter
- ÇEKEV İzmir Çiğli Evka-2 Women’s Culture Foundation
- Diyarbakır Selis
- Diyarbakır Silvan Municipality Meya Women’s Centre
- DIKASUM Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality
- ELDER Çanakkale
- Ergani Selis
- EVKADAY (Housewives’ Counselling and Solidarity Centre, Aydın)
- Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Women’s Counselling Centre and Shelter
- Izmir Women’s Solidarity Association
- Izmir Konak Women’s Council
- Kapadokya Women’s Solidarity Association
- Foundation for the Protection of Women and Solidarity, Erçiş Branch
- Women’s Rights and New Solutions Foundation
- Kamer Foundation
- Women Platform of Black Sea Cities Foundation
- Kars Women Entrepreneurs Foundation
- Mersin İştar Women’s Counselling Centre
- Nevşehir Women’s Association
- Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation
- Muş Women’s Association
- Nilüfer Council Equality Department
- Nilüfer Women's Counselling Centre
- Nusaybin Municipality Gulşilav Women’s Shelter
- Seferihisar Municipality Women’s Counselling Centre
- Socialist Feminist Collective
- Söke Women’s Refuge Foundation
- Söke Town Assembly Women’s Council
- Şahmaran Women’s Solidarity and Research Centre Foundation
- Şırnak Sittiya Zin Women’s Counselling Centre
- Trabzon Turkish Mother’s Association
- Trabzon Yaşam Women’s Foundation
- Trabzon Yaşam Women’s Centre Foundation
- VAKAD Van Women’s Foundation
- VAKSUM Van Centre for Women's Issues Research and Application
- Van Mavigöl Women’s Association
- Van Saray Women’s Association
- YAKA Women’s Cooperative