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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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KHRP Calls for Turkey to Step-up Women’s Rights Ahead of CEDAW Review
Tuesday, 20 July 2010 14:07

As the 46th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women turns its attention to the situation of women in Turkey on 21 July, KHRP wishes to highlight the need for a step-change in Turkey’s approach to tackling discrimination. Progressive legislative changes, though welcome, are woefully inadequate to address the vast inequalities between men and women in the country. KHRP believes that a demonstrated commitment of financial resources, expert personnel, training, and strict interpretation of the law, are urgently required to ensure that in the eyes of the law and their communities, Turkey’s women and girls are on par with Turkey’s men and boys.

As outlined in KHRP’s recent shadow report on Turkey’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination for Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Turkey did not provide any data to the Committee on how and whether recent administrative and legislative reforms have reduced discrimination against women or truly improved their status in society. On the contrary, KHRP has consistently heard from varied local women’s rights groups that they still struggle against age-old community attitudes that are frequently accepted or even shared by government officials, judges and opinion leaders. Moreover, indifference towards violence against women, as demonstrated in KHRP’s trial observation of Kerem Çakan, seems to be pervasive throughout all levels of the criminal justice system and points not only to inadequacies in the government’s provision of training for law-enforcement officials, but also its failure to create penalties for non-compliance with the law.

What is more, strategies for reducing discrimination, especially in the field of education, albeit crucial for the integration process, have continued to fall short of the mark. Girls are typically afforded fewer educational opportunities and are more likely to be withdrawn from school at a young age. Indeed, Kurdish women and girls tend to face an uphill battle, since they often enter school not speaking Turkish, and are not given an option of being educated in their mother tongue or being taught in a manner that supports learning in a new language. And because of the language barrier, those who lack formal education often cannot access basic public services. This not only undermines awareness of the legal remedies available to Kurdish women, but also their autonomy and confidence in making decisions regarding ordinary, yet decisive matters, such as employment or health care.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s review, KHRP Managing Director, Rachel Bernu today commented, ‘Turkey must make a genuine commitment to advancing women’s rights and allocate adequate financial resources and highly skilled personnel in tackling the commonplace gender-based discrimination in its society. If the Turkish government is to comply with its obligations under CEDAW, not only is proper recognition of the significant social, economic and political barriers faced by all women critical, but the double-bind of gender and ethnic discrimination too must be understood and combated. Central to this is the government’s commitment to undertaking proactive measures which reach out to its marginalised female, especially non-Turkish speaking, populace.’