Minister Fatma Şahin ‘fully behind’ gender-based violence bill

March 04, 2012, Sunday/ 17:33:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin has announced her full support of a contested draft law to protect women against violence, which women’s groups say the Cabinet has significantly changed.

“Every measure to protect women against violence has been taken in this draft. I will be behind this bill until the very end,” Şahin said, calling the draft law “very strong” during a press conference over the weekend.

Şahin said she hopes to see the law passed before March 8, International Women’s Day. “Hopefully, we will be able to pass the law before March 8 as a present to all women across the country,” she said.

According to Şahin, the draft law has passed through the Justice Commission’s sub-commission. The Justice Commission will begin to look at the bill on Monday, and Şahin said the bill will be presented to the General Assembly on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, more women’s rights groups have come out against what they call unprecedented changes to the bill, changes upon which they did not agree.

A total of 236 women’s groups came together to propose their own draft law at the beginning of the drafting process in 2011 and presented it to the ministry. The ministry, in painstaking collaboration with these women’s rights groups, prepared another draft law, which the women’s groups signed.

On Feb. 24, however, the Cabinet sent the draft law to the parliamentary Commission for Equal Opportunities of Women and Men (KEFEK), but by that point, changes had been made.

As is, the current draft law focuses more on protecting the family than female victims, women’s groups say, and implementation has been essentially stripped. Terminology like “gender equality,” “de facto equality” and “domestic violence” have been removed from the draft law.

On average, five women die every day in Turkey due to gender-based violence.

Turkey ranks 88th in political representation of women

A recently released United Nations Women report found Turkey ranks 88th in the representation of women in politics.

According to the UN Women’s Women in Politics 2012 map, the number of elected women in parliamentary and heads of state positions has increased, but much work remains to reach gender equality.

The global average of representation of women in parliaments is 19.7 percent. The same figure for Turkey is 14.2 percent. A total of 78 women serve in the 550-member Turkish parliament.

Also, only one of Turkey’s 26 ministers is female -- Şahin, the minister of family and social policy.

Nordic countries lead the international list with 42 percent of their parliaments consisting of women. North and South American countries follow with 22.6 percent female representation.

Executive Director of UN Women Michelle Bachelet, who called increasing women’s representation in politics around the world her greatest priority in 2012, has advocated that countries use quotas to expand women’s participation in parliaments.

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