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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 17:58 GMT
Turkish MPs probe honour killings
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Diyarbakir, Turkey

Turkish women in Ankara
At least 60 Turkish women are thought to be killed each year
A delegation of Turkish MPs is visiting the south-east of the country as part of parliament's first research into "honour killings".

There are no reliable statistics but it is thought at least 60 women are killed in honour killings in Turkey each year.

The MPs will present their findings to parliament for discussion in February.

The MPs are on the visit to try and raise public awareness about "honour killings" and push the problem up the Turkish political agenda.

"Honour killing" is a practice where women are murdered for allegedly bringing shame on their family and still has significant support in some parts of Turkey.

Life sentences

Here in Diyarbakir, they are visiting families affected by such murders, a prison where those convicted are serving their sentences, and a shelter to meet women who have been threatened over family honour.

The MP's field trip is the culmination of several months' research on honour killing - a problem the European Union has singled out as serious in its latest progress report on Turkey's bid for EU membership.

The government has already introduced life sentences for such crimes and provocation is no longer any defence.

Although what limited statistics there are suggest at least 60 women are killed this way each year, others believe the true figure is much higher.

The MPs believe their main task is education, especially here in the deeply conservative, mainly Kurdish south-east.

That means teaching women their rights and teaching men that the traditional concept of honour is no defence for murder in law.

They want the penal code changed again too, to make all such killings a crime carrying a life sentence, and they are calling for many more safe shelters here so women in danger have somewhere to hide.



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