“Ankara has made vital reforms to address violence against women no longer needed”

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The UN rapporteur on violence against women, Reem Alsalem, said on Wednesday that the Turkish government had made several improvements to its legislation on violence against women in recent years, but that more was needed to meet the current challenges.

Despite the significant progress Turkey has made over the past 15 years in promoting women’s rights, the country now finds itself at a crossroads, the UN rapporteur concluded after her visit to Turkey.

In a statement, Alsalem acknowledged the particularly difficult context in which the Turkish government and other stakeholders are tackling the problem of violence against women and girls, aggravated by the country’s economic situation and “the implications of the generous reception of almost 4 million refugees – mainly Syrians”. under temporary protection.

The UN further quoted Alsalem as saying that Turkey has made “significant progress in sustainable development, taking fundamental steps to eradicate poverty and increasing support for marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society, including women. and the girls”.

“Alsalem recognized the strong legal framework for the prevention of violence against women and girls through the law to protect the family and prevent violence against women (Law 6284), as well as Turkey’s four national action plans and specialized initiatives, including the mobile phone emergency aid application: KADES,” he added.

“Turkey has made significant legal and policy reforms to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, but these fall short of its full capacity, potential and responsibilities to protect women and girls living on Turkish soil and do not correspond to the seriousness of the situation. situation,” Alsalem said.

Alsalem has been in Turkey for 10 days and has met in this context with ministers, institutions and representatives of international organizations, civil society organizations, trade unions, bar associations and foreign nationals who are victims of Turkish and female violence.

The UN rapporteur also urged Turkey to reverse its decision to abandon a European treaty to combat gender abuse.

Alsalem has expressed “deep regret” over Ankara’s decision last year to walk away from a treaty that Turkey was proud to have helped draft more than a decade ago.

“I really urge the Turkish government to reconsider this decision,” Alsalem told reporters.

Turkey became the first country to sign the convention in 2011 and ratified it by a vote in parliament the following year.

Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention last year, prompting backlash from women’s rights groups and Western countries.

Opponents of the pact in Turkey say the convention undermines family unity, encourages divorce and that the LGBT community was using its references to equality to gain wider social acceptance.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed that this would not be a step backwards for women and in March the Turkish Parliament ratified a bill aimed at combating violence against women, including the introduction harsher penalties if the victim of a violent crime is a woman and making persistent harassment punishable. with a prison sentence.

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