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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Turkey 'fails to protect women'
Turkish women
Many courts blame women, the report says
Amnesty International has severely criticised the Turkish government and judiciary for their failure to act over violence against women.

The human rights group's latest report claims up to a half of all women in Turkey have been victims of violence.

Amnesty says changes have been made to the legal system but shocking failures to uphold the law continue.

Turkey is waiting for the European Union to decide to set a date for talks about its possible entry into the EU.

There has been no direct response so far from the Turkish government about the report.

But a member of the parliamentary human rights committee, Ahmet Farouk Umshal, denied the problem was widespread - and said it was by no means confined to Turkey.

Honour killings

The BBC's Jonny Dymond, in Istanbul, says the Amnesty report paints an almost unimaginably bleak picture of women's lives in Turkey.

Citing study after study it suggests that the level of violence against women here is considerably higher than around the world, he says.

It is says at least a third and possibly up to 50% have suffered violence.

A culture of violence can place women in double jeopardy, both as victims of violence and because they are denied effective access to justice
Amnesty International

"Violence against women by family members spans the spectrum from depriving women of economic necessities through verbal and psychological violence, to beatings, sexual violence and killings," the reports says.

"Violence against women is widely tolerated and even endorsed by community leaders and at the highest levels of the government and judiciary."

Examples include a man strangling his own daughter because she has been raped and a judge reducing a rapist's sentence when he promises to marry his victim.

The report is filled with accounts of young women forced into marriage, or everyday violence, of an environment of intimidation and, at its worst, of so-called "honour killings," where family members kill women who have had extra-marital relationships or who have been raped.

Fear

A women's rights activist from Diyarbakir told Amnesty: "Excuses for beating women at home include 'staring out of a window for a long period', 'saying hello to male friends on the street', 'if the telephone rings and there's no one on the other end', and 'spending too long talking to shopkeepers'."

The Turkish police are criticised for failing to investigate alleged violence and the courts continue to blame women who have been attacked, raped or killed.

Amnesty does not suggest that violence against women is peculiar to Turkey, but it says that a culture of violence can place women in double jeopardy.

It says they are both victims and they are denied effective access to justice.

Amnesty urged the Turkish government to ensure that shelters were available for victims of domestic violence, and called on prosecutors and police investigators to pursue the culprits of attacks on women.


SEE ALSO:
Turkey 'is acid test for Europe'
23 Mar 04  |  Politics
Greece 'will back Turkey EU bid'
07 May 04  |  Europe


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