Violence against women in Turkey increased one-and-a-half times between 2008 and 2011, according to a parliamentary report released over the weekend.
The parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission's sub-commission on violence against women and family members compiled information from applications submitted to the gendarmerie and police stations between 2008 and 2011. The cases included honor-based crimes, sexual harassment and assault, the promotion of prostitution, intentional injury, torture, the sexual abuse of minors, fraudulent marriage and forced marriage.
Violence against women increased one-and-a-half times between 2008 and 2011, according to the sub-commission's report. In 2008, Turkey witnessed 48,000 incidents of gender-based violence; that figure jumped to 80,398 in 2011.
Bilecik, Elazığ, Isparta, Karaman, Kayseri, Denizli and Bartın had the greatest numbers of reports of gender-based violence in the three-year period, according to the report's findings. İstanbul, Turkey's most densely populated province, ranked 65th out of 81 provinces in terms of reports of gender-based violence per capita. The Turkish capital of Ankara ranked 46th and major city İzmir ranked 17th.
The provinces with the greatest increase in gender-based violence were Trabzon and Ağrı. Both provinces saw the number of reported cases of violence against women increase five-fold.
Whether violence against women is indeed increasing in Turkey has been a highly contentious point of debate, with suggested figures differing among political parties, sociologists and activists. While some point to research that shows an increase in reported incidents of violence, others such as Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin argue the increase is a sign of the greater visibility of the issue in the media and in society.
Some sociologists argue that if there has been an actual hike in gender-based violence, it could be a repressive, patriarchal backlash against enhanced women's rights and place in the workforce.