Unmarried women not eligible for legal protection

December 28, 2011, Wednesday/ 16:57:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

women subject to violence from partners to whom they have not been engaged or married will not be eligible for legal protection against domestic violence, following the removal of the clause “those living together in close relations” from a statute currently being drafted by the family and social policy Ministry.

The provisions of the proposed bill, “The Protection of Women and Family Members from Violence,” which is to be presented in the near future for consideration in Parliament by Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin, will only pertain to couples who are married, engaged or divorced. A woman who has been exposed to or threatened with violence by a man she was formerly engaged to will, however, fall within the ambit of the statute.

Changes to the bill include the provision that media outlets that run disturbing images of abuse may be liable for a fine of up to TL 20,000. It also includes a provision that men who subject their partner or children to violence will be obligated to receive psychotherapy and directed to employment-oriented courses or agencies if they are unemployed. The bill also provides for electronic tagging bracelets that will be implemented as a means of tracking potential offenders and “panic necklaces” that will be distributed to women at risk. Women who wish to change their identity as a means of escape from domestic violence will also be supported by the government under the new bill.

Şahin met with members of prominent women's organizations in Turkey on Wednesday to discuss the provisions of the bill as human rights groups increasingly call for legislative measures as the most sensible option in an attempt to contend with the domestic violence omnipresent in Turkish society. The outcome of the meeting had not yet been announced.

Şahin also announced on Wednesday that the Family and Social Policy Ministry will be intervening in legal cases of domestic violence and act as a co-plaintiff with the party that institutes the suit. The ministry will intervene in hundreds of cases utilizing a team of 90 lawyers, the Anatolia news agency reported. The first time this is expected to come into play will be at the next hearing of Hüseyin Civek, who allegedly stabbed his wife Selma Civek to death in January when she requested a divorce. The co-plaintiff would be Birsel Kurt, legal adviser to the Family and Social Policy Ministry; however, Kurt's application for co-plaintiff status is currently pending.

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