The difference in the school enrollment rate of girls and boys in primary schools has narrowed down to 0.5 points, Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Şahin announced on Thursday during the first Antalya Women's Summit.
During the meeting, which had prevention of violence against women as its main theme, Şahin spoke at length about a bill drafted by her ministry to combat violence against women. The minister recalled that the theme of the ongoing International Antalya Film Festival is “And woman touched the world.” She said women should have more opportunities to “touch” all aspects of life and, pointing to a mannequin in the meeting hall of the Antalya Dedeman Hotel representing child brides, added, “It is a common fight for us all, men and women, to stop children who should be in school from being forced into marriage.”
The minister said the foremost criteria to examine when understanding the place of women in society were equal opportunity, the rate of representation in politics, civil society and local governments and prevention of violence against women. She said although the gender gap is closing for children in lower grades, the same ratios are not found in high schools and universities.
Her speech comes one day after the European Union criticized Turkey's high rate of violence against women in its latest progress report, released on Tuesday. “Gender equality, combating violence against women, including honor killings, and early and forced marriages remain major challenges for Turkey. The constitutional amendment providing for positive discrimination in favor of women has yet to produce results. Women's representation in politics, managerial positions in public administration, including education, at governor level, in political parties or in trade unions remains generally limited, even though polls indicate widespread public support for women in politics," the report said.
In related developments, the head of Parliament's Commission for Equal Opportunity for Men and Women, Azize Sibel Gönül, on Wednesday said the commission was going to study 38 laws for language and expressions that discriminate against women. The commission had its first meeting yesterday, with the 25 members -- 20 of whom are women -- introducing themselves. In its first meeting, the commission said earlier projects to prevent early marriages, violence against women, mobbing in the workplace, pressure on women over the gender of their unborn children and gender equality in education would continue. The commission also announced the start of a joint effort with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the achievement of gender equality in Turkey.
Şahin's ministry is currently working on a draft bill to combat violence against women. The İstanbul Police Department, which has been working with women's groups, is preparing to establish a unit under the Department of Public Safety for the prevention of violence against women. As part of the project, two police officers in each of the 39 police stations in İstanbul will be assigned to protect women at risk of domestic violence. So far, 67 victims of domestic violence have sought the help of body guards assigned by the police.
The Ministry of Family and Social Policy also announced on Tuesday that it was launching a new initiative to place women at risk in studio apartments, in response to complaints from women of different ages living in the same safe houses.
Currently, there are 77 centers offering shelter to battered women in Turkey. Three of these are run by civil society organizations, 23 by municipalities and 51 by the ministry. The centers host about 400 woman and 100 children every month. The ministry says these houses temporarily solve the problem, but studio apartments could present a sound alternative in the long term. The ministry also has plans to establish 15 new business development centers and to endow TL 20 million in support of female entrepreneurs.
Balıkesir woman stabbed to death by husband
A 32-year-old woman who was in the process of ending her marriage was stabbed to death by her husband in the northwestern city of Bandırma in Balıkesir province on Tuesday.
Figen K., who was stabbed by her husband, Sadık K., in the chest and stomach in broad daylight, died in the hospital.
Witnesses who knew the couple told the police that Figen K., a frequent victim of domestic violence at the hands of her husband, had recently filed for divorce and moved in with her family. Since then, she has rejected every offer from Sadık K. to reunite, telling him she demanded a divorce and had no intention of reconsidering.
On Tuesday, she came across her husband, who tried to talk to her, but she refused and tried to continue on her way. Losing his temper during the fight that ensued, Sadık K. pulled out a knife and stabbed her several times. The woman was then taken to Bandırma State Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy has yet to be conducted.
Area residents said Sadık K. had been to Figen K.'s family house before, wanting to talk and usually making a scene. The woman's neighbors said she had frequently expressed concern that she might be attacked or murdered by her husband.
Police are conducting a large-scale investigation to capture Sadık. K., who is still at large.