Statement by Mrs. Şengül Altan Arslan Head of Department General Directorate on the Status of Women of the Prime Ministry Commission on the Status of Women 51st Session

Şengül Altan Arslan 01.03.2007
Madam Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,

Turkey aligned itself with the EU statement on Monday.

Turkey attaches utmost importance to the priority theme of the 51st session of the Commission on the Status of Women. In the recent years, Turkey has made considerable efforts in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and the girl child, with the participation of all stakeholders. In this regard, Turkey has been taking the necessary legal and administrative measures.

For instance, the new Penal Code considers sexual crimes as crimes committed against the individual, and envisages heavy life imprisonment for honor killings. Moreover, "forced prostitution" is taken into account within the context of ''human trafficking'' and perpetrators shall be subjected to heavier punishment.

In order to prevent early and forced marriages, a new legal arrangement was made which defines the legal minimum age as completion of the age of 17. In any case, if a forced marriage occurs, the victim has the right to apply for its annulment.

In order to examine the causes of honor killings and violence against women and children, as well as identifying the measures to be taken, a commission was established within the parliament in 2005. Within the framework of the report prepared by this commission, the Prime Ministry issued a circular directive in 2006. This circular specified the measures to be taken and also designated the public institutions responsible for the coordination of the necessary activities.

In this regard, Ministry of the Interior has also issued a circular to all provinces in order to determine the duties and responsibilities of governorates and municipalities for the prevention of violence against women.

Madam Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,

Implementation of such measures is of crucial importance. Therefore, the General Directorate on the Status of Women and the General Directorate of National Police signed a protocol, in order to raise awareness of the security forces who are the first to be contacted by the victims. Over 40.000 police officers will benefit from a special training program.

As you all know, domestic violence against women and children mostly stem from the male members of the family. Thus, the General Directorate on the Status of Women has given special efforts on creating awareness among men. Training materials on gender equality, including visual ones, have been prepared. With the cooperation of the Turkish Armed Forces, these materials have been distributed to all men doing their compulsory military service.

Besides, a national campaign called "Combating Violence against Women" is being conducted with the participation of all stakeholders, aiming to create awareness within the society, especially among men.

In terms of protective measures, we are aware of the fact that the number of shelters for the victims of violence is not sufficient at the moment in Turkey. This will be rectified.

Madam Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,

Apart from efforts pursued to eliminate violence committed against the girl child, Turkey pays particular attention to the education of girls, due to the unique role of education for the empowerment of women. Within this framework, the Ministry of Education has undertaken all the necessary measures.

In this regard, I can refer to two campaigns being conducted in cooperation with UNICEF. These campaigns are named "Let's go to School, Girls!", and "My Family". So far, "Let's go to School, Girls!" campaign has been successful in providing the attendance of an additional 220.000 girls to school. "My Family" campaign is aimed at educating family members about gender equality and the rights of the child.

All these positive developments strengthen our determination to further improve the empowerment of women and the girl child in our country.

Before concluding, I would like to express our sincere hope that the 51st session of the CSW will give us a fresh impetus in our common endeavors to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and the girl child.

Thank you.