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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Some Turkish women 'back beating'
Turkish women in Ankara
Turkey has recently approved legal reforms to protect women
More than a third of Turkish women believe they deserve to be beaten if they argue with their husbands or deny them sex, according to a new survey.

The poll of 8,075 married women by Ankara's Hacettepe University revealed that 39% thought domestic violence was justified in certain circumstances.

In rural areas, 57% said their spouses were right to beat them, the study funded by the EU and Turkey showed.

The EU, which Turkey seeks to join, has urged Ankara to improve women's rights.

Last month, the Turkish parliament approved legal reforms including heavier punishments for assaults on women, the recognition of rape in marriage and life terms for perpetrators of "honour killings".

But Kirsty Hughes, visiting fellow of the European Institute of the London School of Economics, told BBC News Online that "laws don't change attitudes overnight".

"Turkey is a conservative, patriarchal society that is changing and needs to change more - which is why so many in Turkey are keen to join the EU," she added.

Key problem

In the poll, women said domestic violence was justified if they argued with their husband, if they spent too much or neglected the children, the Anatolia news agency reports.

Correspondents say Turkish women enjoy greater freedoms than those in many other Muslim nations.

For decades, they have had the right to vote, access to education, the right to divorce and the right to abortion.

But violence is frequently cited as a key problem by Western non-governmental organisations.

A recent report by Amnesty International estimated that at least one third of Turkish women are victims of domestic violence in which they are "hit, raped and, in some cases, killed or forced to commit suicide".

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