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Human Rights Watch: Combatting Domestic Violence in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) allow violence against women, from sexual assault to femicide, to persist by participating in a culture that permits men to be violent with impunity.

"Around four out of ten women in Turkey say they have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by husbands or partners at some time during their lives, according to government studies from 2008 and 2014. Women’s rights groups and independent media regularly record hundreds of femicides in Turkey every year. Turkey’s Interior Ministry, in a report to a 2020-21 parliamentary commission looking at the causes of violence against women, provided fluctuating numbers of femicides over the past five years, the lowest being 268 femicides in 2020, with the figure for 2021 having risen again to 307.

"The present report tackles the use of preventive and protective cautionary orders issued by courts and law enforcement officials under Turkey’s 2012 Law to Protect the Family and Prevent Violence against Women (Law No. 6284). Law No. 6284 incorporated many aspects of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention) into Turkey’s domestic law and remains in force despite Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention in 2021.

"While penalties for men who murder women have risen over the years, there needs to be more focus on the failure of the authorities to prevent these murders. There should be clear processes for investigating and holding to account public authorities in cases where they have not exercised due diligence in preventing and protecting victims of domestic violence."

The judicial system in Turkey is primarily influenced by Erdogan and the AKP government, which holds a majority in parliament and controls media outlets, and regularly targets opposition parties. This has resulted in an echo-chamber government that blocks with force outside criticism and opposition, never allowing space for the representation of groups marginalized by the current regime. As this report illustrates, women and their children in Turkey face fatal consequences from the regime's refusal to protect them from a culture that normalizes violence by men.

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