UN report: Turkey exceeds US, EU in violence against women

ALYSON NEEL
?STANBUL

Turkey tops Europe and the US in the number of incidences of violence against women, according to a report by UN Women released in early July.
Titled “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice,” the report finds that justice for women in Turkey and around the world is still out of reach. Highlighting the prevalence of gender injustices, the report has concerning figures of violence against women around the world.
Despite domestic violence now being outlawed in 125 countries, globally 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime, states the UN Women report.
Thirty-nine percent of women in Turkey have suffered from physical violence at some time, as stated in the report. In comparison, this figure is 22 percent in the US and between 3 to 35 percent in 20 European countries. Turkey struggles more than the US and many EU countries with violence against women; in fact, the only countries that exceed Turkey in the report are those of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific island nation of Kiribati.
In 2010, 10 percent of women in Turkey reported being subject to some form of physical violence. While Turkey continued to lag behind the US and the EU, it did fare better than some countries in the Middle East and North Africa in the prevalence of physical violence.
In Turkey, 15 percent of women reported having been victims of sexual violence. The only countries where there were higher rates of the sexual abuse of women were Kiribati and Sub-Saharan Africa. Georgia proved to be a safe haven for women with only 2 percent reporting to ever having experienced sexual violence.

Figures on the acceptance of violence against women were also quite telling. The report found that in 17 out of 41 countries, 25 percent or more of people believe it is justifiable for a man to hit his wife. Slightly fewer Turks (22 percent) would agree with this statement, while more people in Germany (28 percent) and China (23 percent) share this perception of domestic abuse. In the US, however, 16 percent of people and an average of 18 percent in European countries agreed that it is sometimes acceptable for a man to beat his wife.

The findings of the UN Women’s report are revealing for Turkey and its standing on the global stage on the issue of violence against women. In all three categories defined by UN Women, countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia and the Pacific are the only places where women are more severely threatened by violence than Turkey.

Though Turkey fared poorly compared to Europe and the US in these findings, Human Rights Watch (HRW) author of “‘He Loves You, He Beats You’: Family Violence in Turkey and Access to Protection,” Gauri van Gulik said that it is important to remember that domestic violence is not a “problem that’s contained in a country.”

“This problem [domestic violence] is truly happening everywhere in the world. Europe is no exception,” said van Gulik. According to HRW findings, 20 to 25 percent of women in Europe have suffered from domestic abuse.

At the end of the day, Turkish women’s rights activist P?nar ?lkkaracan said that the important thing is not whether Turkey is high or low in the global rankings. “What is important is that Turkey is not doing its duty to protect women,” she said.

This table is a cross-section of the UN Women’s extensive database that accompanied its 2011-12 flagship report. The original database includes data for more than 175 countries.

This sample contains countries from all categories listed in the UN Women’s report — Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Developed Regions, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Only one country — Egypt — in the Middle East was included, because the UN Women’s report did not contain comprehensive findings for most of the countries in the region.


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