Four out of five women in shelter homes cannot vote due to security concerns

Four-fifths of domestic violence victims living in women’s shelters could not vote in elections due to security concerns, revealed DEM Party deputy Sümeyye Boz in a parliamentary question. Publicly available poll information prevented women from turning out on election day, noted Boz. 

Duvar English

Four out of five women living in shelter homes in Turkey could not vote because of security concerns brought upon by publicly available polling station information, revealed Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party deputy Sümeyye Boz. 

Boz submitted parliamentary questions for the Family and Social Services Ministry about current practices impeding the political participation of women living in shelters to escape domestic violence. 

Boz noted that around 30,000 women living in shelter homes opted out of voting, concerned that their polling stations were publicly available to their abusers. 

Polling information for all voters in Turkey including their open address is available through the Supreme Election Council (YSK) website.  

The Ministry had stated they employed measures to ensure the safety of women who requested to vote.

Boz said that the policy fell short, evidenced by the high number of women who could not vote due to severe security concerns. 

Boz also inquired about the Ministry’s actions to ensure the security of women in shelters who wanted to cast their votes in the upcoming local elections on March 31, according to reporting by the Mesopotamia News Agency. 

In April 2023, the YSK adopted measures to ensure the safety of women living in shelter homes to escape domestic violence. Accordingly, the relevant women’s address information would not be revealed on the voter list that will be hung at the polling stations. Only the first letters of their names and surnames would be printed. Also, the YSK’s website would not disclose any information on the women.

Women's organizations had found these measures insufficient as they excluded women who lived in shelter homes but did not have restraining orders against their abusers. 

The Family and Social Services Ministry reported that 1.3 million women applied to its Violence Prevention Centres (ŞÖNİM) between January 2013 and November 2023.

The data revealed an increasing trend of gender-based violence throughout the years. On average, 10,461 women were subjected to violence in the country per month.