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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
UN probes Turkey 'forced suicide'
Poster by Turkish artist Burak Delier showing a woman covered by a chador made of the EU flag, Oct 05
Turkey is working to raise awareness of women's rights
A UN envoy is investigating reports of a sharp rise in the number of women committing suicide in Turkey.

Yakin Erturk, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, will assess claims high suicide rates are linked to tougher laws against honour crimes.

Some girls are suspected of being ordered to take their own lives to cleanse their family's honour.

Ms Erturk will visit four cities during her 10-day fact-finding mission in south-eastern Turkey.

Thirty-six women have reportedly attempted suicide in the region so far this year - already more than in the whole of last year.

She will meet officials, civil society groups and some of the families involved in an attempt to understand what is driving women to suicide and what might be done to help prevent it.


Some suggest the key motive for the high number of suicides could be despair at a restricted lifestyle. Many families migrated to the city of Batman from the deeply conservative countryside.

Others suspect many of the cases may be forced suicides, where a girl perceived to have brought disgrace to her family's honour is ordered take her own life, perhaps locked in a room with a rope or a gun.

Recent reforms mean the penalties for the crime of honour killings - which are decided by family council and usually committed by a male relative - are far stiffer.

Women's groups have reported a rise in the number of unexplained deaths labelled as suicide.

The Turkish government has begun work to raise awareness about domestic violence, and mosques have been instructed to preach against honour crimes in particular.

But changing the mentality that drives such killings is an enormous task, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Turkey.

In the meantime, in Batman, there is still no shelter or local hotline for women in danger.

Country profile: Turkey
09 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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