Aynur Tekin / DUVAR

The Purple Roof Foundation, a prominent a women’s shelter foundation, recently published a report involving violence against women that has occurred during the coronavirus epidemic in Turkey. 

According to the report, the institutions to which women appeal to in order to be protected from violence committed by men do not present solutions, create alternatives, and even violate their duties by turning the women away. 

During this process, women who experience physical violence are not taken into a shelter without a report indicating that they have been beaten, and are being improperly or insufficiently treated by the authorities. 

According to Selime Büyükgöze, who volunteers for the Purple Roof Foundation, the institutions that violate their duties by failing to protect women are not being punished for their negligence: 

“There are two things that enables these violations. The first is that the struggle against violence committed against women is not among the main issues on the agenda in Turkey. For example, at the moment the pandemic is a state issue, but fighting violence against women has never been a state issue. For this very reason those who commit the violence know that if they don’t obey the law nothing will happen to them. The second reason is without a doubt the male-dominated system. An approach that protects men and which is sexist toward women is very common. This is why we continue to see these violations,” Büyükgöze said 

The already-problematic system has become even more unreachable during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result women have become even more desperate. On top of that, new legislation that may result in the release of prisoners who have committed violent crimes against women is another source of worry, Büyükgöze said. 

“In this situation women feel that their lives are under threat. The law does not include crimes committed against one’s spouse. But those who have committed violence against their ex-wives or partners can be released, as these women are not considered relatives,” Büyükgöze said, adding that those convicted of crimes such as blackmail against their wives can be released within the scope of the legislation. 

According to Büyükgöze, the fact that the Ministry of Family and Social Policies is not admitting women into shelters without a report that indicates that they have been beaten is in violation of law 6284, which defines shelters as “temporary places that women who have experienced physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse or violence can stay (together with their children if they have them) and have their needs meet in order to strengthen them, solve their psycho-social and economic problems, and protect them from violence.” 

The report indicates that police are using the COVID-19 outbreak as an excuse to send women away, telling them to go home or go to the home of a friend’s, and that shelters are either closed or are “worse” than their homes. Women are also not admitted into shelters that are outside of the provinces in which they reside. 

One of the most striking parts of the report is the fact that there is still no special hotline for women in Turkey who are the victims of domestic violence. Instead, there is the ALO 183 hotline, which is responsible for responding to the requests of all disadvantaged groups. 

“There are women who we have encountered who say that they are redirected to the Purple Roof Foundation by ALO 183. The fact that they are forced to redirect them to a women’s organization rather than state institutions shows the desperation of those working in a collapsed system,” the report said. 

The report recommended a number of measures that need to be taken to improve the situation in Turkey, including the increase of social, psychological and legal support, and the establishment of a crisis department within the Social Services Center. It also said that the ALO 183 hotline should function as an emergency help line for women experiencing violence, and that its capacity needs to be increased. 

It also stated that the police who do not carry our their duties properly and adhere to the terms of law 6284 should be punished, and that the demands of women need to be prioritized and that they need to be settled in shelters rather than being forced to wait for hours at police stations. It stated that a woman’s residence, nationality, and whether or not they have obtained a doctor’s report should not be used as conditions for being placed in a shelter.